While SA Rugby announced that professional rugby teams are to return to non-contact training from Monday 20 July, amateur rugby activities have been cancelled for the year.
According to an SA Rugby statement on Friday 17 July, the confirmation came after several weeks of preparation and consultation with government and all provincial unions to ensure compliance with regulation and to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection.
This means that eight professional teams will resume training with a view to competing in domestic competitions that are being modelled by SA Rugby.
“This is an important first step back to playing, and we have taken it carefully to ensure full compliance and having thoroughly interrogated the regulations with government,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.
“Contact training will not be permitted for the moment, but the players will be allowed back onto the field with a rugby ball and back into the gym – while observing strict protocols in both areas – which comes as a great relief to the sport.”
Roux said that all players and management teams were screened before Monday’s return and that training venues had been prepared to conform to the new protocols.
Roux added that the only teams expected to appear in 2020 were the eight professional teams and those that fielded u.21 teams, which then meant all other competitions, which included all club rugby activity were cancelled.
“The risk associated with a mass return to train and play has been highlighted by government and the timelines and practicalities are such that it is unrealistic that there will be a general return to play this year,” said Roux.
“Therefore the members of the CovCom (the standing committee of member unions and experts which has been managing rugby’s response to the pandemic), opted to formally confirm that the only rugby to take place under their jurisdiction this year would feature the eight senior teams.”
Roux added that schools’ rugby did not fall under SA Rugby’s jurisdiction and any decisions in that regard would be handled by the department of basic education.
Earlier this month, TygerBurger reported WP Amateur Rugby manager, Danny Jones, had still harboured hope that amateur rugby could still resume activities within the calendar year (“Clubs hope for quick return”, TygerBurger, 8 July).
“There was a tremendous amount of good news for the sport sector this week as we saw the minister of sport approving the return to training for some sport codes,” Jones mentioned in a letter on WP Club Rugby’s website last week.
Jones had reiterated that the approvals, and expectant return, were dependent on SA Rugby’s decision.
While a return to the playing fields have been put on hold until further notice, Jones mentioned that clubs were informed of the latest ratification of ventures put forward by the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) as well as ongoing coaching courses, which have been conducted online.
“Our WP Rugby 2.5 coaching course now goes into its final week. This past week focussed on skills with Stormers manager Chippie Solomons. This session was particularly helpful for the coaches as Chippie brings a wealth of experience to the table. He highlighted that the role of the manager has changed tremendously over the past few years and is much greater than simple logistics. And although the manager plays an integral part in player welfare, there should be a clear understanding between coach and manager on role definition, as strictly speaking the manager would have very little to do with matters such as coaching and team selection.
We will shortly be hosting our online media, marketing and sponsorship workshops. We’ve been running this course for several years now. This is a good time to look at making sure your websites and social media platforms are up and running.
Once again we remind our administrators, coaches, players and fans to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations and to practise these health and safety protocols at all times.”
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