No Test matches in SA this year
BREAKING NEWS: South Africa will not host any Test matches this year.
This news was revealed by Jurie Roux, Chief Executive officer of South African Rugby on Tuesday.
Roux, in a virtual media briefing, said that the most likely option for the Springboks this year is a Rugby Championships based in New Zealand.
There are negotiations for a year-end visit to the Northern Hemisphere, but nothing has been finalised.
However, the Rugby Championship – should it be realised – will take up all the time set aside for internationals – in the period of end-October, November and some of December.
He said the fact that it is unlikely South Africa’s border will be opened soon, means no teams will be allowed to visit this country in 2020.
Roux admitted the situation remains “very fluid” and multiple factors are playing into the planning going forward.
“If anybody thinks international rugby and the domestic scene will return to any format close to what existed at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, you would be making a very big mistake,” Roux said.
“The market has corrected itself and was due in any case.
“Pay-TV, the structures surrounding broadcasting and the way we consume rugby was due a change and now will undergo that change – a change brought on by COVID-19.
“Anybody that will venture on what rugby will look like in the next five years – other than it will be significantly different from where we are at the moment – is very brave.”
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He said they are being forced to make decisions in very uncertain times and planning as best they can for 2020 and 2021.
The reality is that everybody are in a state of flux in terms of planning beyond 2021.
He said the months of August, September, October and November are getting “very congested”, as they attempt to fit in as much rugby as possible in what remains of the year.
He said their endeavours to organise international games, given the congested global roster, is causing problems with Regulation 9 and release of players for international matches.
“Hopefully in next two weeks, we will be able to announce 2020 plans.”
He reiterated the plans are for an eight-team domestic competition, starting at the end of August or the beginning of September.
The teams for that competition are the Bulls, Lions, Cheetahs, Sharks, Southern Kings, Stormers, Pumas and Griquas.
“We are busy negotiating with government on two scenarios,” Roux said.
The first option is a tournament outside of a bio-bubble and the second is in a bio-bubble – i.e. at one venue.
“The question is now where that ‘bio-bubble’ will be?
“Initially the destination of choice was Johannesburg. However, with Johannesburg becoming a real [COVID-19] hot spot, and all metros becoming hot spots, we have to provide an alternative to government by the end of the week.”
He said it is vital to get the players back on the field, before the national team embark on any international campaign.
“The only chance of an international competition would be for the Rugby Championships in the New Zealand bubble,” Roux said.
“All other matches for the Springboks are probably not in consideration at this stage.
“We are not planning on hosting any international games in South Africa this year.
“Our best chance is the Rugby Championships in New Zealand and if that doesn’t materialise, our alternative option is possible going to the Northern Hemisphere to play Tests.”