SA Rugby eager to get top players in action
A State of Origin series is being contemplated for a local TV audience — or they may play in a ‘bio-bubble’ abroad
So desperate is it to see its top players in action before a television audience that SA Rugby is reportedly considering a State of Origin three-match series later in 2020.
With the international calendar still in limbo‚ SA Rugby has had to consider all its options in the event that the Springboks do not see combat in 2020. Super Rugby as we know it is off the table and the Currie Cup is far from getting the green light.
One of the ideas put forward is a three-match series, played over the festive season, in which teams will be assembled based on the players’ place of origin. That, of course, could mean place of birth‚ where the player matriculated or first played professional rugby.
In Australia‚ State of Origin matches in rugby league have been huge drawcards since the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons first clashed in the early 1980s.
In fact‚ it is often referred to as Australian sport’s greatest rivalry. State of Origin match-ups in Australia are based on where the player first played professional footie.
SA’s tribalism runs along different lines, however. Where a player was born or where he matriculated are more likely be the preferred selection criteria should the series get the go-ahead.
During its years of isolation‚ SA rugby occasionally turned to North versus South clashes to try to fan interest in the local game‚ while Test union day was another such outlet.
A State of Origin series would be contingent on a number of factors. Its main purpose would be to serve as a potboiler for SA Rugby in the absence of other viable playing opportunities for the country’s top players.
It will only happen if the Rugby Championship is no longer part of the landscape in 2020. SA Rugby is still hopeful the Rugby Championship can be played, even if it means the Springboks have to play all their matches abroad in a so-called “bio-bubble”.
SA Rugby faces financial ruin if the Rugby Championship does not go ahead in 2020. Already‚ the Springboks’ end-of-year tour to Italy‚ Ireland‚ Wales and France is in jeopardy as the Six Nations unions have started planning their own eight-team event in that time slot.
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