South African Rugby Union (Saru) says even though the World Rugby’s decision to recommend the postponement of the 2021 Rugby World Cup to next year is disappointing for the Springbok Women’s team, it was understandable and sensible.
World Rugby announced late on Tuesday that it had made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of the Rugby World Cup, which was scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between September 18 and October 16, until next year due to the evolution of “the uncertain and challenging global Covid-19 landscape”.
The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee early next week.
“I share Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer and the team’s disappointment, especially after all the hard work they have been putting in since last year in preparation for the tournament,” said
Raubenheimer adopted a logical view to the decision and said: “The key aspect is not that we are disappointed, it is the fact that the health and safety of everyone concerned is more important.
“We would have been very disappointed if the Rugby World Cup was cancelled, but this is just a postponement of the tournament.”
According to World Rugby’s statement, it had become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the Covid-19-related uncertainties, it would not be possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.
The challenges included the uncertainty and ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand and challenging global travel restrictions.
Raubenheimer immediately redirected his attention to forward planning and said: “It is a now a question of realigning our goals and setting a new timelines for ourselves going forward. We cannot wait for the new dates to be announced so that we know how to prepare.
“This will give the players more time to play and really get to know what is expected of them from a physical and emotional perspective. I believe the right decision was made in the interests of everyone involved”.
Saru revealed that the Springbok Women’s rugby programme would continue as planned this year, barring the RWC tournament, so that the players are able to enter the spectacle next year as well prepared as possible.
The team will play international friendlies this year once the restrictions settle.