COVID-19: Rugby Competitions Cancelled as Clubs Fired-up for Kick-off

Staff Writer, 23 April 2020

South African Rugby has cancelled a number of competitions and is continuing with contingency planning for others in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the body announced this week.

The competitions that will no longer take place in 2020 include the SA Rugby Youth Weeks, the provincial U13 and U17 Sevens, the Schools U18, the Provincial U19 Week, as well as the provincial U20 and provincial Sevens.

“These are unprecedented times, not only for rugby in South Africa, but across all spheres of life all over the globe,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, in a statement. “Unfortunately, we had to make some very tough calls in terms of our local competitions, but we have the buy-in and support from the local franchises and unions, SAREO, MyPlayers and our broadcaster, SuperSport, in this regard.

“The decision to cancel certain competitions and tournaments is in line with what has been happening across various sporting codes all over the world – we are not shielded from this in South Africa. In terms of other teams’ participation in certain competitions, and the hosting of other tournaments, we are currently on a return to train and play readiness plan, but this is dependent on Government advice and decisions as the pandemic evolves.

Tournaments that are still part of the planning for the year include local franchise and union competition planned for June to August as alternative to Vodacom Super Rugby and Guinness PRO14, Currie Cup Premier and First Divisions, Provincial U21 Competition, Supersport Rugby Challenge, Women’s Inter-Provincial Competition, and international matches involving the Springboks men and women teams.

All club and community rugby is still postponed until further notice and SA Rugby reiterated its plea to all clubs, teams, players and coaches to adhere to the lockdown rules, the statement concluded.

The SA Rugby statement came as the Western Province Club Rugby members “remain fired up” and positive that the 2020 season will still take place. “By all accounts, our members remain fired up for the 2020 season as we see even more player home training and coaches monitoring in play,” WPCR president Zelt F Marais, said.

“Some clubs have had their strength and conditioning coaches send their players training programmes online and are monitoring their activity via WhatsApp. Additionally, many coaches have been discussing the nutrition habits of the players and are monitoring player weight management”.

The club rugby department developed various scenarios for when the season could possibly start and remain positive that club rugby will still be played this season. To support the clubs’ teams and player training activities, our coaches management team has sent many of the clubs the SuperSport Fitness Challenge programme.

The programme is based on the same strength and fitness programmes our WPRFU XV players have been using before the lockdown as they prepared for the SuperSport Challenge. In   Cape Town the Challenge was originally scheduled for 25 April, 01 May, 10 May and 30 May.

Marias said in the past few weeks they have moved the organisation’s working method to electronic process as they do regular online conference calls to upskill coaches and management. “In due course, we will compile this knowledge bank and pass the structured information onto our club structures”.