Super Rugby

Rugby in SA a step closer to return after government update ... but obstacles remain

Nathi Mthethwa (Gallo Images)
Nathi Mthethwa (Gallo Images)
  • Contact sports in South Africa seems to be a step closer to returning to training after an announcement from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa.
  • It was a significant announcement for the country's rugby franchises, who are desperately trying to get back on the park.
  • New Zealand and Australia are both currently playing their own domestic Super Rugby tournaments.

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has provided an update on the return to play of contact sports as the struggle against the coronavirus continues.

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While the signs are largely positive, it is still not clear when South Africa's professional rugby franchises will return to the field.

On 25 June, Mthethwa announced that contact sports would be allowed to return to training, but those plans needed to be officially gazetted by government and that has now happened.

In a statement sent out on Monday, Mthethwa laid out the conditions for how contact sports could be phased back. 

While the document should also apply to football's desired return, government seems to have dealt with that code individually and some PSL clubs are back training already. 

Rugby, though, has found itself a step behind. 

In the statement, Mthethwa confirmed that clubs, franchises or associations now have 14 days to submit their comprehensive proposals on how they will safely return to training. Government will then have seven days to examine the proposal and make a decision before giving final approval. 

It was also confirmed that every professional athlete be tested for coronavirus before being allowed to resume training. 

In contact sports, no more than five players will be allowed to train in a group at any given time. 

SA Rugby has been in constant contact with government throughout the lockdown and is understood to have already submitted detailed plans on how it plans to return to play. 

While the date of the return to training will obviously directly impact what domestic tournaments South Africa can host and when, it is also hugely significant for the Springboks and their chances of being fit and firing for a potential Rugby Championship later in the year. 

New Zealand and Australia, as of this past weekend, now have their own domestic versions of Super Rugby in full swing.

Significantly, the statement added that "a sport body and its affiliate members are jointly and severally responsible for any claim for damages or negligence arising as a result of failure to take reasonable measures in curbing the spread of Covid-19."

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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