Former Junior Springbok coach: Write off 2020 season, plan for 2021

Hilton Lobberts celebrates with Eugene Eloff after winning the U19 World Championship final against New Zealand in 2005 (Gallo Images)
Hilton Lobberts celebrates with Eugene Eloff after winning the U19 World Championship final against New Zealand in 2005 (Gallo Images)

SA Rugby's top brass should be prepared to write off the rugby season and plan thoroughly for next year.

That is the view of former Junior Springbok and Lions head coach Eugene 'Loffie' Eloff.

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Rugby, like all sports in South Africa, is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and it's unclear whether there will be a return to action any time soon.

In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Eloff said he believed the rugby world will "undergo a facelift".

"A lack of TV revenue and bums on seats is hurting the game and more and more big unions around the world are letting players go because there are too many that are contracted.

"Going forward, unions are going to have smaller contracted groups and less junior players on their books. All the unions are going through a tough time and there is no definite date when rugby will return. I'm of the opinion that one should write off 2020 and plan for 2021," Eloff said.

While players are staying fit with at-home programmes, Eloff stressed that it was not enough to prepare them for the match scenario.

"Credit to the players for staying fit in isolation but the reality is that you need to do your fitness with your team in a structured playing system. If you do 100 sprints on your lawn it’s not going to keep you contact and rugby-fit."

There is, however, a silver lining amidst the chaos, Eloff believes.

"It's time to rethink where we are and where we are going within the game. I foresee the face of Super Rugby changing and becoming a totally different competition internally, with the top teams playing against each other… I love the idea of international tours returning.

"The idea of the British & Irish Lions or All Blacks embarking on a tour to South Africa is exciting because, besides them playing Test rugby against our national side, they will also get to tackle the Super franchises. There is definitely going to be plenty of change and, reading between the lines, it seems like there will be less rugby based upon affordability," he added.

READ | Eugene Eloff's full Q&A interview with Sport24

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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