DURBAN – After the Sharks vs Stormers match had played out at Kings Park on Saturday, visiting coach John Dobson spoke from the heart about the suspension of Super Rugby and the massive impact it is going to have on the game and on the livelihoods of so many people.
“I’m not the World Health Organisation (WHO), but because of the reaction to the coronavirus, I hope all of this has been properly thought through because it’s going to have cataclysmic effects on some people’s lives. People are going to lose their jobs and that really scares me,” Dobson said.
Having said this and more, Dobson then took the unusual step of readdressing the media after opposite number Sean Everitt’s media conference, this time expressing regret if it had come across that he had disrespected WHO.
“Obviously I am no medical expert … I’m sure the right thing has been done and I guess I am just emotional about how serious the ramifications of the suspension are,” he said.
“We are not the English Premiership League. And I don’t know what the quantum is if Super Rugby doesn’t resume, but I suspect it’s between a R10 million to R20 million loss. I don’t know if we can absorb it as an industry and the players have genuinely got job concerns now.
“We were supposed to play in Argentina next week and I am not sure why 30 players can’t get scanned, stay in isolation and get scanned 48 hours before the game, get cleared and play. At least then the broadcasters would have something to show and the media would have something to write about. It’s very disappointing and that probably puts a heavier pull on losing to the Sharks today. It’s the bigger picture, I’m afraid.”
Dobson said that there was a “funereal” aftermath to the announcement that Super Rugby is on hold indefinitely, after seven of the 18 rounds of the competition.
“It feels funereal for everybody. I think the tragic consequence of the reaction to this virus is going to see probably more hardships and death than the actual virus, in the way that jobs and the economy are going to be affected. That is a major concern.
“I’m not going to lecture you on it, but I just feel that this is going to affect poor people in a horrible way and I hope political correctness hasn’t gone too far. I understand that it’s about safety, but if you ask our players or the Sharks players to play tomorrow, I’m sure they would all say yes, so yeah, it’s sad.”
Everitt was way softer in his reaction to the suspension. While he accepted that it was “in the best interests of the world at large,” purely from a rugby point of view he said the enforced break was welcomed by the Sharks.
The Sharks have played seven matches in a row and their bye was due to come after this week’s now-canceled home match against the Chiefs.
"To be honest, I think it’s a welcome break for us, our guys are knackered. As you saw, they gave everything against the Stormers and have done so every other week.
“We haven’t played a complete game, we have been good in some areas, weak in others. But where we’ve been good has bailed us out and against the Stormers that was the scrum. But you could see by the end of the game the guys had nothing left to give. They are exhausted.”