The South African rugby fraternity is pinning its hopes on SA Rugby being able to convince government of a return-to-play protocol by the end of the week.
Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night announcing that the country’s lockdown would be downgraded to level three from June 1, sporting events were still prohibited.
Fundamentally, Ramaphosa’s decree didn’t change the status quo. Draft level three regulations, leaked into the public sphere recently, suggested exceptions would be made only to athletes of non-contact sports.
SA Rugby, however, had already submitted a framework as well as contingencies for the resumption of activities to relevant ministerial committees in the second week of May.
Pumas chief executive Pieter Burger, whose union could face financial oblivion should this year’s Rugby Championship meeting between the Springboks and All Blacks in Nelspruit not take place, had earlier revealed that the deadline for government’s deliberation on the proposals was the end of this month.
It was also understood that unions had been informed by SA Rugby’s special Covid-19 committee earlier this month that, “based on current predictions”, training would resume only in August.
Should that come to fruition, there was tentative hope that some form of competitive play could commence by September.
However, Stormers coach John Dobson had been quite vocal over how realistic such time frames would be, as the players’ inactivity over the past few months meant they would basically had to engage in a full pre-season again to avoid injury.
Meanwhile, Blue Bulls president Willem Strauss said the situation for club rugby remained equally uncertain.
The Bulls possess one of the more vibrant club rugby scenes, characterised by inter-provincial competitions that are receiving increased investment.
“With regards to our club game, we’re monitoring the situation daily and working on different scenarios,” he said.
“Should we be able to resume club rugby it will obviously be subject to the required health and safety protocols.”
Schools rugby was destined to be a write-off for 2020 after Angie Motshekga, the minister of basic education, stated sport events remained banned.