Ross Cronje keen on internal competition, even without spectators
JOHANNESBURG – Seasoned Lions scrumhalf Ross Cronje is hopeful administrators will be able to organise an internal rugby competition, even if it means playing behind closed doors.
The spread of the coronavirus and the subsequent suspension and cancellation of most sporting competitions and events has left players, participants and spectators wondering about the future of sport. Super Rugby - just eight rounds into the 25th edition - was suspended nearly seven weeks ago.
Australian and New Zealand rugby authorities had hoped to get internal competitions up and running in their countries not long after lockdowns were called there - played by their respective Super Rugby teams - but those plans fell flat days later after the respective governments enforced stricter lockdown measures and halted all air travel.
Cronje, who has played 10 Tests for the Springboks and featured for the Lions in three Super Rugby finals, remains hopeful that something can be arranged to get South Africa’s players playing again.
“I hope something can be organised, even if it is behind closed doors,” said Cronje.
He, like so many sports men and women around the globe, is staying fit by following a specific training programme at home, which in his case is on a small farm in the Cradle of Humankind, just outside Johannesburg.
“I’d rather be here than in the city,” said Cronje, 30.
“I’m not stuck, so to speak. There’s space to train, and to even go for a proper run, which is great.”
Cronje has had a frustrating year in that just when he was about to return to the Lions team after a lengthy injury-spell on the sidelines, Super Rugby was halted. He had been struggling with an ankle problem and while his teammates were in Australasia taking on the Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels and Blues, he returned to the game and ran out for a Lions XV in a friendly against the Sharks in Durban.
“I felt good in that game and was ready to join the guys (in the Super Rugby team),” he said.
“The fitness was there so it would have been nice but I don’t think that’s now going to happen anytime soon.
“All I can do is stay fit and look after myself so that when the green light comes I’m ready.”
The silver lining to the suspension of sport is that Cronje has been able to spend more time with his family after recently becoming a dad for the second time.
On March 26 his son, Jesse Jack, was born - a brother to sister Mila-Rose, who is 22 months old.
“It’s awesome... to be able to spend so much time at home and be a part of this, it’s nice,” said Cronje. “One’s got to try and find positives in this situation (lockdown) and this is one, for sure.
“When my daughter was born I wasn’t at home much, which was disappointing, but I’m making up for it now.”
Cronje also spends his days working alongside twin brother, Guy, and the rest of his family who run and own a wedding venue and restaurant in the Cradle.
“It’s quiet now, but there’s always stuff to do,” Cronje said.
“This coronavirus has opened up our eyes. None of us knows what the future holds will there be salary cuts, job security is on the line it’s tough. But one must stay positive and try and look to the future somehow, have something else, something for life after rugby. That’s why I’m involved in the farm and the wedding venue.”@jacq_west