Why the long wait for SA rugby to restart?


Why on earth is it taking so long for rugby in South Africa to hit the restart button?

That is the question most rugby supporters are asking after the players were allowed to resume contact training two weeks ago already, yet no dates for a new-look domestic competition have been confirmed by SA Rugby. The most likely scenario is that a Currie Cup-style competition will kick off on October 10.

Rudolf Straeuli, the Golden Lions chief executive, said there were clear guidelines in place and targets to be met before actual games could restart and that is the main reason for the delay.

"The players' welfare is the first priority and the required protocols have to be in place," said Straeuli on Wednesday.

"Players will have to be regularly tested for Covid-19, sufficient sanitizing of staff and players must be carried out while equipment and the fields will also be regularly sanitized under the guidance and supervision of medical personnel," he said.

"Furthermore, the green light for matches to start up again has to be achieved in adherence with the Sport Ministry and safety measurements, and government will have to be satisfied that everything possible has been done (for it to happen safely)," he said.

Straeuli said at his own union at – the Lions – there is huge excitement even though the players are training with masks on at the moment and regular sanitizing and testing is taking place on a daily basis.

"The players are upbeat and they are ready to return to action when the official go-ahead comes," he said.

"The new players have added energy to the squad but we don't want to talk too much; we'll rather do our talking on the field," he said.

The date of September 26 has been mentioned as a possible warm-up opportunity for the teams to play at Loftus in a Super Hero day, while the Cheetahs and Griquas will clash on the same date.

"Obviously, SA Rugby still have to confirm these dates but in a warm-up scenario we will play in two chukkas with a rolling substitute system in place," said Straeuli.

While flyhalf Elton Jantjies is destined to resume the role as Lions captain it still needs to be confirmed. "Obviously that is a call for our coach Cash van Rooyen to make but seeing that he was the captain in Super Rugby I would imagine he would continue in that role," said Straeuli.

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