North-South exhibition match set for Cape Town ahead of Currie Cup restart
DURBAN - Barring unexpected government intervention, the Stormers will play the Lions and the Bulls will face the Sharks on the September 26 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria when South African rugby resumes at last after nearly six months of lockdown.
This Superhero Sunday is less than a fortnight away and it will be followed up the following weekend with a North v South exhibition match in Cape Town before the Currie Cup kicks off on October 10.
This is the blueprint SA Rugby have submitted to the Minister of Sport for “return to play” after rugby went into lockdown way back in mid-March, and there is no reason why the green light should not be forthcoming.
SA Rugby was given the governmental go-ahead to begin contact training a fortnight ago under strict conditions, including routine Covid-19 tests to be undertaken every Monday for the foreseeable future, and the country’s franchises have diligently followed the protocols.
Interestingly, of the Super Rugby franchises, the Lions, Bulls and Stormers reported clean bills of health after the first testing two weeks ago while the Sharks returned 15 positive results from the testing of over 100 players and staff members. However, the tests at the Sharks proved to be “false negatives” and the Durban union have now reported a clean sheet.
The Currie Cup is expected to be a home-and-away event for the seven teams, stretching across summer until a final on January 16, and it will only feature South Africa’s best players if the Springboks do not feature in the Rugby Championship that has been confirmed for Australia over the month of November.
The Boks’ participation is up in the air after Sanzaar last week stated in their confirmation of the Rugby Championship that South Africa had “some hurdles to clear” if they were to join New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.
Those hurdles include “high performance” issues given that South Africa’s players have played no rugby since the weekend of March 14 and would have to leave just two weeks into the Currie Cup so that they could undergo 14 days of isolation in Australia before the Championship.
If the Boks do not go, it would mean one of the most keenly contested Curie Cups in many a year, with the country’s best players on show.