Big boys in the scrum risk injury if rugby contact training doesn’t resume soon
DURBAN - It remains a waiting game for South African rugby as the government continues to consider plans submitted by SA Rugby last week for a return to contact training as the major step towards the resumption of matches.
Until the players are allowed to take contact, a start date for the envisaged Currie Cup cannot be fixed because the players need roughly four weeks of full-on training before they can be match ready.
Anything less would raise safety concerns for players that have not taken contact since mid-March when rugby was suspended.
And if there is a protracted delay in the approval coming through, it could influence the format of the competition, with the hoped for double-round for the eight teams shrinking to a single round if the start date is pushed back significantly from the anticipated first weekend in September.
As matters stand at the moment, Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa last Thursday allowed for a return to competitive action subject to compliance with measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The directions stipulate that contact training, and matches can be played in empty stadiums, with only limited people allowed to attend games as part of essential services to make these events possible and from within a “bio safe environment”.
SA Rugby then submitted return-to-play plans to the Department with all the necessary information required, including possible venues for matches, to ensure a smooth transition to competitive rugby.
A week later, though, the governmental go-ahead has not come through ...
Last week, SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said it was hoped the first matches would be under way “by early to mid-September” and that plans on the structure of the competition would be announced in due course, “as we have various options to consider”.
Yesterday, SA Rugby spokesman Andy Colquhoun said that approval had not yet materialised.
“We await developments after having submitted our plans to the Minister,” Colquhoun said.
“There are a number of issues that need to be cleared up, such as whether contact training can take place outside the bio bubble in which the competition will be held.
“Regarding the format, it will come down to how many Saturdays we have at our disposal (before the Currie Cup is due to end on the weekend before Christmas). It could be 16, 18, 13 ...” Colquhoun said.
Meanwhile, the players of the eight teams concerned continue to train in pods of no more than five, chomping at the bit to get stuck into hardcore training.
The players probably most at risk of injury from lack of contact training are the front rankers, who need to get scrumming sooner rather than later if they are going to be physically ready for those set scrum engagements.