With local teams being rocked by the departure of several star players, the future of South African rugby has been cast in more uncertainty following the postponement of the Springboks’ July Tests against Scotland and Georgia.
The Tests were due to take place on July 4 in Cape Town, July 11 in Durban (both against Scotland) and July 18 in Port Elizabeth (against Georgia).
World Rugby announced on Friday, however, that the programme of
international rugby matches during the July window had been postponed
due to ongoing government and health agency Covid-19 directives.
“Any solution will have player health, welfare and appropriate return-to-play protocols at heart,” said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.
“It would be inappropriate to comment on potential solutions during a fluid and important consultation process.”
Deepening the crisis, the Lions announced the departure of four
players and an assistant coach at the end of a 21-day period in which they were allowed to exit their contracts.
The departing players included hooker Malcolm Marx, lock Ruan Vermaak,
fullback Tyrone Green and flyhalf Shaun Reynolds, along with backline coach Neil de Bruin.
While the Lions did not want to specify where each of the players was heading, Lions Rugby Company chief executive Rudolf Straeuli thanked them for their valuable contributions, with some of them having formed part of the Lions since their school days.
“There is always a big sense of loss and sadness when we lose family members,” Straeuli said.
“We wish them well on their journey ahead and thank them for some very
special times spent with the Lions.”
These moves came in the wake of centre Johnny Kotze leaving the Bulls, while the Stormers had to bid farewell to fullback Dillyn Leyds, prop Wilco Louw and lock Cobus Wiese during the transfer window which closed at midnight on Thursday.
Flyhalf Jean-luc du Plessis was also linked to an overseas move, along
with Sharks wing Makazole Mapimpi, who could be off to the Docomo Red
Hurricanes where former Lions coach Johan Ackermann was set to move
after he severed ties with Gloucester.