Picture: 123RF/Wavebreak Media Ltd
Picture: 123RF/Wavebreak Media Ltd

The Boxing Day and New Year’s Day slots‚ normally associated with cricket in the high summer months‚ could become prime rugby dates pending government approval.

In a draft document of domestic rugby fixtures seen by Business Day‚ the four Super Rugby franchises (Sharks‚ Stormers‚ Bulls and Lions) and the Cheetahs‚ Pumas and Griquas have been pencilled in to play matches on December 26 and January 2.

December 26 is traditionally the start of the Boxing Day Test in SA, which has alternated between Durban‚ Port Elizabeth and Centurion since 1992.

While the New Year’s Test start date has shifted from January 2 to the following day‚ it remains a prized and profitable Test match at Newlands in Cape Town.

Whether those cricket fixtures are able to take place this year under the travel and Covid-19 regulations is still up in the air‚ but December 26 and January 2 fall on a Saturday.

That works well for rugby matches and if there is no inbound cricket tour for whatever reason‚ SA Rugby may have hit on a gold mine.

Critically‚ in the draft fixture list a game has not been scheduled in Cape Town on January 2 while there is no Durban fixture on December 26.

According to the draft list‚ a game has been pencilled for Pretoria on December 26. SuperSport Park in Centurion has hosted the two most recent Boxing Day Tests with a fair degree of success while Durban’s most recent Boxing Day Test was in 2015.

While SA Rugby has given the various franchises the green light to return‚ speculation has been rife about the start date of the tournament. When approached for comment‚ a SA Rugby spokesperson said the fixtures had not yet been announced.

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