Bok participation still up in the air as Rugby Championship dates are confirmed

The Springboks are set to to return to play in the Rugby Championship next year, but no one knows what that competition's structure and format will look like. Picture: Getty Images

The six-week Rugby Championship is set to take place in Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney between November 7 and December 12.

While SA Rugby says it is relieved to have a fixtures list to work off, the federation will delay a call on the Springboks’ participation in this year’s Rugby Championship until virtually the last minute.

Provided they decided to take part, the Boks were set to begin the defence of their Championship title with an away match against Argentina in Brisbane on November 7, it was confirmed on Thursday following the release of the series fixtures.

In order for the Boks to play in the tournament, however, they would have to undergo a two-week isolation period like all other participating teams, which meant they would have to be in Australia by October 24 at the latest.

Locked in a race against time to prepare the SA squad, with domestic rugby kicking off this weekend after a lengthy hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, national director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Bok coach Jacques Nienaber were expected to use the next two weeks of domestic action as an indicator on whether they would be ready to play in the Championship.

“It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, but we are delighted that we can now confirm the match dates and venues for the 2020 Rugby Championship,” said Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos.

“The Rugby Championship is one of the game’s showpiece events and includes some of the best rugby talent in the world.”

A spokesman for SA Rugby, however, revealed that the federation was unlikely to announce a final decision until they had a chance to fully assess the Boks’ potential participation.

The six-week Rugby Championship was set to take place in Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney between November 7 and December 12.

Sanzaar explained the incoming teams
(Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa) would be required to observe all health regulations around their squads, which would be held in a bio-bubble, as imposed by the New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland local governments.

“Thanks to our committed family of
broadcasters this action will also be delivered to the living rooms of our overseas rugby fans, providing a rugby feast similar to what we experienced a year ago with the Rugby World Cup,” Marinos said.

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