SA Rugby welcomes return to training under level 3

SA Rugby welcomed the announcement that professional sports teams could begin returning to training under Level 3 lockdown.

Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, announced the updated terms of the lockdown at a briefing on Saturday 30 May.

Mthethwa gave sports teams 14 days to submit proposals to the department on how they would ensure the safety of the players and officials, and accommodate journalists and broadcast crews.

The minister left the door open for football and rugby to resume play when he announced that non-contact sports could resume if they observed all the necessary regulations and put in place protocols that prevented super-spreading events.

SA Rugby welcomes return to training

SA Rugby’s CEO Jurie Roux welcomed the department’s announcement, first hinted at by Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma earlier in the week.

The announcement allows SA Rugby to move forward with return to play, giving them a fighting chance of recovering some of the income lost due to the pandemic.

Rugby will liase with the department of sport, arts and culture in the coming days to ensure they are able to welcome franchise players back to training in June.

“This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return-to-play,” said Roux.

“We submitted a comprehensive, staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately.

“We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training.

“But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play.”

Bosses optimistic about 2020 season

SA Rugby announced the suspension of all rugby on 18 March. The 2020 Super Rugby season was called off with the Sharks topping then table when play was halted.

The inbound international tours planned for July have been cancelled, but World Rugby hope to be able to go ahead with the November Tests in Europe.

Government have made it clear that sporting events will not be allowed to host fans until lockdown alert level 1, which could only be in 2021 or even 2022.

SA Rugby plan to stage a six-team domestic franchise tournament behind closed doors. The four Super Rugby franchises (Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers) together with the two Pro14 teams (Cheetahs and Kings) would take part.

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