Durban – The disadvantage the South African teams are experiencing in the United Rugby Championship is set to continue with the confirmation that the European teams will not play matches in South Africa until next year.
Instead, the first two rounds of home games for the SA teams against overseas opposition will be played at European venues still to be confirmed, but probably in Italy.
This is despite South Africa being removed from the UK’s red flag list for travel, which means the UK teams would no longer need to isolate for 10 days on their return home.
In the last weekend of November and the first weekend in December, the Scarlets, Cardiff, Munster and Zebre were scheduled to play in South Africa.
There has always been a contingency plan in place —destinations in Italy are earmarked for South African “home” games — and that plan is to be activated according to URC chief executive Martin Anayi.
“It's great that they’re off the red list and that is likely to allow us to go to South Africa in the second half of the season (2022) and we’ll keep the games where they're going to be in Europe for rounds six and seven,” said Anayi.
The Lions, Stormers, Sharks and Bulls conclude their four-match tours of Europe this weekend and will return to South Africa for about a month before coming back to Europe to play two more home matches before a break in the league until January 2022.
The SA teams have already had to undertake four-match tours instead of the two-week stints that were customary in the PRO 14, and they have had to play without their South Africa-based Springboks.