JOHANNESBURG – In what could turn out to be some of the most critical days in the history of rugby in this country, the South African rugby fraternity, including players and fans, could know in the coming days whether the green light will be given to host an internal, behind-closed-doors competition should the 2020 Super Rugby season be scrapped.

SA rugby bosses, headed by president Mark Alexander and chief executive Jurie Roux, are involved in ongoing conversations with the government about the possibility of hosting some kind of rugby competition to help save the industry from losing millions of rands this year.

It is understood that SA Rugby are engaging with the relevant ministers, both formally (in writing) and informally (in conversations), on how the regulations related to the national lockdown and regulations currently in place might be relaxed in the weeks and months ahead. Super Rugby was halted several weeks ago after just eight rounds of action when the coronavirus started spreading beyond the borders of China.

Australia and New Zealand were the first countries to mention they would seek a way to play in a domestic competition, but when all flights were grounded in those countries the plans were left on the boardroom table. SA’s rugby bosses though are hopeful of getting some kind of competition off the ground in the coming weeks. A competition involving all four Super Rugby sides – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – as well as the two Pro14 teams – the Cheetahs and Kings – has been mentioned.

Weekend reports quoted SA Rugby president Alexander as saying the governing body would propose for a domestic competition to be played behind closed doors in July and August. Also, SA Rugby would take it upon themselves, with their medical staff, to screen all participants.

At this stage all rugby competitions and tournaments, including the Springboks’ scheduled Tests later in the year, are in jeopardy because of the coronavirus and the lockdowns that have been imposed by the majority of governments of the relevant countries.

Meanwhile, in an effort to help save the rugby industry in SA, the country’s professional players are expected to take pay cuts from the end of May to add to the 12.5% of the R1 billion SA Rugby wants to cut from their budget in the next eight months.

Also, an agreement reached between players and unions over the last few days allows for players to end their contracts with their respective unions should they wish to do so, up to May 14.

NZR in lockdown over coronavirus

New Zealand Rugby in lockdown over coronavirus concern.


By Jacques van der Westhuyzen