The Springboks. Picture: WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN/GALLO IMAGES
The Springboks. Picture: WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN/GALLO IMAGES

SA Rugby has until Thursday to determine whether the Springboks will contest the 2020 Rugby Championship in Australia.

Sanzaar announced overnight that “following a chief executives’ teleconference call on Tuesday‚ the Sanzaar member unions have agreed to provide SA Rugby with an additional 48 hours to finalise its internal stakeholder discussions on participation. This will now delay the scheduled departure of the Springboks from SA to Australia.”

“Sanzar will provide an update on the resolution of these discussions and a timetable for the Springboks’ participation in the Rugby Championship when available in the coming days.”

The southern hemisphere championship, which includes Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, will be held entirely in Australia this year because of  Covid-19.

Rugby SA said last weekend that “several hurdles” needed to be cleared before they could confirm the Springboks’ participation and that they hoped to make a decision early this week.

However, with the tournament set to begin in Sydney on October 31 and the Springboks scheduled to play their first match against Argentina on November 7, time is running out to get the players into Australia and through quarantine.

The delay in the departure of the SA players means the match schedule looks almost certain to be changed, but Sanzaar said the Tests between Australia and New Zealand on October 31 and November 7 would go ahead as planned.

SA Rugby had been awaiting clarification from the government, which last week lifted some travel restrictions and permitted local athletes to travel abroad. However, this may not include teams that are based locally.

The amended regulation states that “only individuals who have an employment contract with a team outside the Republic may be permitted to leave” SA in accordance with directions issued by the home affairs minister.

Until the regulation is clarified, the team will not travel.

There has been widespread concern in SA’s rugby community that their players are a long way from being ready for the intensity of the competition.

SA rugby returned to action only two weeks ago after a long Covid-19 lockdown. The domestic Super Rugby competition started last weekend.

New Zealand and Australia have by contrast already completed their Super Rugby competitions and played a Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington last weekend, drawing 16-16.

The Pumas squad is already training in a biosecure bubble in Sydney despite several players and coach Mario Ledesma testing positive for Covid-19 during their preparatory camp in Argentina.

Reuters

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