SA Rugby wants get domestic competition doing in July, August
Super Rugby Aotearoa - the Maori name for New Zealand and literally meaning “land of the long white cloud” - kicks off on Saturday with the Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes set to play each other, home and away, over the next few weeks.
With the spread of Covid-19 bringing to an end all rugby across the globe, including Super Rugby, the PRO14 and Test rugby for the foreseeable future, national bodies have had to look internally to get the sport up and running again.
Australia are expected to launch a domestic competition of their own soon as well.
SA’s rugby boss Jurie Roux stated on Monday that SA Rugby hoped to be back in action on the field by August, but maybe even sooner. He said in a video conference with the press that a Super Rugby style competition was on the cards, and that the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers would be joined by the two PRO14 teams, the Cheetahs and Kings.
“It will be a home-based version of Super Rugby, and include those two PRO14 teams because they’re not likely to play in their competition any time soon,” said Roux.
“We’re hoping to get going by August, but maybe even in July. We could either all go into a bio-bubble, probably in Johannesburg, and play up there, or we could travel on the day of games and be in and out without too many other engagements. Everything will depend on what restrictions regarding travel and hotel stays are in place at that stage.”
Roux said contact training and playing matches were likely at level two of the national lockdown, but that SA Rugby would have to prove to the SA government that contact-action was viable and safe. Any matches would probably still take place behind closed doors.
Following a Super Rugby-style competition, SA Rugby hoped to also stage a Currie Cup and Under-21 competition and then also look for the World Cup-winning Springboks to play Test matches later in the year.
“Everything will depend on border restrictions. We’ve got a few models we’re discussing, like setting up a bio-bubble in one of the countries and where everyone stays and plays, or we could go north to play in Europe, or some teams could come down to us,” explained Roux. “It’s a fluid situation.”
Currently rugby bodies in the northern and southern hemisphere are working towards establishing a global calendar - an opportunity to finally get something in place because of the uncertainty across the globe of what a post-Covid-19 world will look like, according to Roux. This could mean the tour of the British and Irish Lions - scheduled for July next year - being postponed until September.
“If we can get a global calendar in place, we’d like to do that, and wouldn’t want the Lions tour to prevent that from happening,” said Roux.