There is every reason to believe the 2020 season can be salvaged, according to Springbok icon Naas Botha, following the announcement this week that rugby could return to play.
With government confirming a return to action had been gazetted, provided sufficient health and safety measures were in place, SA Rugby was expected to announce a fixtures list for a local Super Rugby competition and a Currie Cup tournament in the next few days.
And while some sacrifices would have to be made in order to complete two domestic campaigns before the end of the year, with SA Rugby aiming to resume elite action in mid-September, Botha believed there was sufficient time to get the sport back on track.
“Of course the season can be saved. 31 December is still a long way off,” Botha said.
“After all, we are talking about the year, and this year we can’t talk about a (full) season, so let’s hope we can save something.”
Botha, a former Bok captain and now a respected analyst of the game, said he felt empathy for the nation’s elite players, who had taken pay cuts and were forced to train alone at home for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Given a chance to get back on the field, after recently returning to non-contact training, Botha expected local teams to hit the ground running.
“I really feel for the players because they just want to get out… but we all realise everybody’s health is first priority,” he said.
“I don’t know what the (training) programmes of the players look like, but I would imagine they were not hanging around doing nothing.”
While New Zealand and Australia had a head start in a return to domestic competition, Botha was confident that SA had not fallen too far behind, with the Boks gearing up to potentially face their
perennial rivals in the Rugby Championship in November.
“The players we are talking about are all quality players and they should be fit,” Botha said.