Tests will push Super Rugby around the 2020 calendar
July fixtures against Georgia and Scotland and the Rugby Championship are likely to outrank the series
If‚ due to Covid-19‚ there has to be a sacrificial lamb on the SA rugby calendar‚ Super Rugby appears to be most at risk.
The July Test matches against Scotland and Georgia outrank it in order of importance‚ while the Rugby Championship scheduled to start in August is of even greater significance.
“That is certainly how the broadcaster would want it‚” said one well-placed source. “The Test matches would definitely take priority‚” he added.
The Springboks are due to play Scotland on July 4 and 11, followed by a one-off Test against Georgia a week later.
While SA Rugby may prefer those matches to go ahead‚ they are at greater risk of not being played. The Tests involve international travel, which will require different governments having to agree on various health and safety protocols.
SA Rugby does‚ however‚ have a bit of time on its side and can even move those fixtures back a month if a suitable Super Rugby playing schedule can be agreed on by the Sanzaar alliance.
Although the Tests will take priority‚ the source said they may be moved to a later slot on the calendar as will the Rugby Championship, which he described in monetary terms as “the cherry on the cake”.
With Super Rugby already compromised‚ its schedule is more likely to be altered to fit the rest of the fixture list.
Sanzaar officials are understandably tight-lipped about the different return-to-play scenarios they are weighing up.
There is huge uncertainty as governments in SA‚ Australia‚ Japan‚ Argentina and New Zealand have different restrictions in place.
Rugby Australia is considering having its players return to the field in May, while New Zealand is upbeat about how it has levelled the curve of the rate of infections. New Zealand went into full lockdown on March 19 and the earliest they will emerge from it is April 16.
Japan this week declared a state of emergency as the rate of infection increased and it is unlikely any sport will be played there in the foreseeable future.
When Super Rugby does return it is most likely to start in Australia and in empty stadia.