Super Rugby’s future in doubt after Covid-19 shutdown, says John Dobson
Stormers coach says his staff fear for their job security
Stormers coach John Dobson fears that Super Rugby will not recover financially if the tournament is cancelled due to Covid-19.
Dobson was responding after Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos said Super Rugby had to resume in five weeks or face the prospect of the season being scrapped.
The Stormers coach says there is job security concern among his staff after his team were beaten in Durban by the Sharks on Saturday.
“I’m not the World Health Organisation, but because of the reaction to it [Covid-19], I hope it’s properly thought through,” Dobson said after the Sharks game.
“It’s going to have cataclysmic effects on some people’s lives. People are going to lose their jobs and that really scares me.
“We are not the English Premiership football league.
“And I don’t know what the quantum is if Super Rugby doesn’t resume, but I suspect it’s between a R10m to R20m loss. I don’t know if we can absorb it as an industry and the guys have genuinely got job concerns now.
“We were supposed to play in Argentina after the Sharks game. I just don’t know why 30 players can’t get scanned, stay in isolation and get scanned 48 hours before the game, get cleared and play. At least then the broadcasters would have something to show and the media would have something to write about.
“It’s very disappointing. That probably puts a heavier pull on losing to the Sharks.
“It’s the bigger picture, I’m afraid about. It feels funereal for everybody. I think the tragic consequence of the reaction to this virus is going to see probably more hardships and death than the actual virus in the way that jobs and the economy are going to be affected. That is my greatest concern.
“This is going to affect poor people in a horrible way. I hope political correctness hasn’t gone too far. I understand that it’s about safety, but if you ask our players or the Sharks players to play tomorrow, I’m sure they would all say yes. So yeah, it’s sad.”
SA Rugby suspended all national team training camps and business travel on Monday as part of a raft of measures in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Scheduled Springbok alignment camps, Springbok men’s and women’s training camps and the SA Rugby Under-20 preparations have been suspended until April 14.
In addition, the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, scheduled to kick off during the April 24-25 weekend, has been postponed until further notice.
At club level, the Gold Cup competition is being reassessed with a view to postponement.
The Springboks’ incoming series in July (against Scotland and Georgia), Youth Week tournaments and Currie Cup remain as scheduled but will be reviewed in April.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said that background planning is under way to resume the Super Rugby and Guinness Pro14 competitions before season’s end.
“This is a highly fluid situation. We are planning against certain unknowables, but we have not given up on either competition and are working with partners internationally to resume the competitions within the constraints of health, common sense and any statutory restrictions,” Roux said.