FILE - Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
FILE - Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.

Business as usual for Bok bosses

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen Time of article published Mar 18, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG – Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber are hard at work and continuing preparations for the forthcoming Test season. This despite the Bok management duo not currently being allowed to interact in a personal capacity with the players.

All national team training and alignment camps and business travel have been suspended in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

While a halt to Super Rugby has also been called, the July Test series against Georgia and Scotland is still on the cards for now.

“All of us in the game across the globe are in the same boat,” said Erasmus, who led the Boks to World Cup glory in Japan just last November, on Wednesday. “No one could prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As SA Rugby have already said, we need to ensure the wellness of players, supporters and staff, as well as playing rugby’s part in helping counter the pandemic.

“Our planning for the season will carry on regardless, whether it’s the Boks, Junior Boks, BlitzBoks or our national women’s teams. We still have a lot to prepare for.”

The three Bok alignment camps that have been cancelled were those scheduled for Durban (March 22, Sharks players), Cape Town (April 5, Stormers players) and Pretoria (April 12, Bulls and Lions players).

“While there are challenges when it comes to face-to-face interaction with players and team activities, modern communication methods make it possible for coaches, players and management teams to keep in constant contact with one another.”

Meanwhile, plans to restructure local rugby competitions are being discussed in the wake of the recent suspensions of Super Rugby and the Pro14 competition to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

These plans could see the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers as well as the Cheetahs and Kings, and possibly some other local sides, play in a new home-based competition. 

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said his organisation was in on-going discussions with stakeholders about different models that could be implemented.

“We are evaluating our competition structures so that we are able to afford game time to all our franchise and provincial teams,”said Roux. “Obviously nothing can happen in the next few weeks until the period of social distancing has lapsed.” 

Roux added: “These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures. It offers us an opportunity to be innovative, too.”

All SA Rugby activities and events have been shelved until April 14.

IOL Sport

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