No home Tests for Springboks this year

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux says border restrictions will prevent the Boks from playing home Tests this season. Picture: Gallo Images

The country’s rugby players may have returned to training this week, but SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux has confirmed there is “about zero chance” of South Africa hosting any international rugby this year.

The Covid-19 pandemic was also likely to affect the 2021 rugby calendar, necessitating major changes in local rugby, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Roux did reiterate, however, that SA Rugby were still hopeful that they would be able to return to play at least by mid-September with local competitions.

“It is still a very fluid situation and there are multiple factors feeding into our daily decisions. But if anyone thinks we are going to return to a format that is close to what existed before this pandemic then they are making a big mistake,” Roux said.

“The market has corrected itself. It was due a change and it has been brought on by Covid. Rugby will be significantly different, and we are trying to prepare for 2020/21, but everything else is in flux.

“There are no plans to host any international games this year because there is about zero chance of entrance into South Africa with our borders closed. The only chance of playing international rugby is in the New Zealand bubble in the Rugby Championship.

“The broadcast revenue from the Rugby Championship is significant and international rugby will hopefully resume towards the end of October, with whatever we can fit in before mid-December.”

International travel was not expected to return to normal until midway through next year, and quarantine requirements were also squeezing the calendar.

While Roux said Super Rugby was not dead, after New Zealand expressed their preference for a trans-Tasman competition with Australia, SA Rugby was hard-pressed to find space for a cross-conference competition before the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa kicked off in early July next year.

“They stated their preferred structure due to restrictions and the costs of travel with fewer flights to New Zealand, and there is every indication that ourselves and Argentina will not be able to go there without spending two weeks in quarantine until the end of May, so the previous format of Super Rugby is just not viable,” he said.

“So New Zealand will play domestically first and then hopefully we can have some sort of crossover Super Rugby.

“The plan is for us to play domestically from February to April, and if the borders are opened then we can have some sort of format across conferences, with Argentina most likely with us. But it all needs to finish by the time the British and Irish Lions tour starts in the first week of July.

“We are all part of the Sanzaar joint venture and there are legal agreements in place.”

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