How Boks became 'collateral damage'
REACTION: Rassie Erasmus has revealed that the Springboks did not have enough players ready to participate in this year’s Rugby Championship.
On Friday, SANZAAR confirmed that World Cup-holders South Africa pulled out of the Rugby Championship owing to complications caused by COVID-19.
The Springboks, who have not played since winning the World Cup for the third time in Japan last year, cited government travel restrictions, player welfare and safety concerns for their withdrawal.
It means Argentina, Australia and New Zealand will now compete in a ‘Tri-Nations’ tournament over six weeks.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) October 16, 2020
“We worked out that the players needed a minimum of 400 minutes of game time before they could be ready for a Test match,” said Director of Rugby Erasmus.
“The overseas-based players had started playing before us and they would have been getting close to that time by 7 November.
“But many of those have completed their programmes or have had COVID outbreaks which has interrupted the planning.
“The Japanese based players haven’t played any rugby at all, while the home-based players would be well short of 400 minutes by the time of kick off.”
SA-based players played their first competitive matches at the weekend, 29 weeks after their last competitive match in Super Rugby. In contrast, New Zealand’s and Australia’s players contested a Test match on Saturday, 17 weeks and 14 weeks respectively after they resumed competitive rugby.
Meanwhile. SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said: ” [South African] Players in England, Ireland, France and Japan are subject to differing local regulations and travel protocols and potentially imminent renewed lockdowns in some territories.
“It was unclear when they would be able to become functioning members of the Springbok squad in Australia.
“We understand that public safety concerns come first and there’s no way that we could expect short cuts to be found to get them out of their host countries and into the Springbok bubble.
“But the impact on our planning was profound and took us to a bottom line that we could not in fairness commit to being able to compete.”
He added: “It has been an extremely challenging year and what started out as a two-week lockdown evolved into a global crisis, one of whose side effects has been to decimate our rugby calendar.
“It seems impossible that the Springboks won’t play a Test match in 2020, but public health and safety have been the primary concern and we have been collateral damage like so many businesses.
“All we can do now is enjoy our domestic competitions and find ways to be ready for the arrival of the British & Irish Lions in 2021.”