Stormers coach John Dobson believes the United Rugby Championship has massive potential, but the uncertain stop-start nature of the competition and the travel problems need to be sorted out for it to shine.
After starting off with a four-week European tour, the local teams were then set to host their first home fixtures of the competition, only for the foreign teams to scurry for the hills after the emergence of the new Covid variant.
This meant a local derby had to be parachuted in to fill the void that was created, while the Stormers’ next scheduled match in early January remained up in the air due to the current travel bans in place.
“We saw on our tour that this competition has enormous potential. We went up there to strange conditions in places we had never been before with referees we hadn’t had before, without our internationals,” Dobson said.
“They then came down here without their’s and that got turned around very quickly, but I am hoping that we can sort the travel out sooner than later so we can still play Zebre and still play Scarlets over here.
“We have tentatively got a fixture for 8 January. Whether that is in Connacht or South Africa, I am not sure.”
The Stormers have now given their players and coaches some time off to spend with their families before they get back together at the end of the month to prepare for their early January fixture.
The team will also be boosted by the return of their full Springbok contingent who will now be available for them going forward, after Damian Willemse, Steven Kitshoff and Herschel Jantjies were given extra time off after returning from their Bok duties.
“We have to be really aware of the players’ wellbeing going forward, so it is a good time to give the guys a rest to refresh and spend some time with their families,” said Dobson.
“So we will give them a couple of weeks off and then after 25 December regroup and start preparing for a game on 8 January.”