SA Rugby remains optimistic that it will be given the green light to host domestic Super Rugby derbies as restrictions during the national lockdown are gradually lifted.
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New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa, an 11-week competition that includes all five of the country’s Super Rugby franchises, is set to kick off next month.
The future of Super Rugby 2020 remains uncertain in its present structure having been suspended after just seven rounds of fixtures, while SA Rugby is desperate to stage some form of competition to help satisfy broadcasters, sponsors and stakeholders.
The issue, of course, is that South Africa is presently in Level 4 of a nationwide lockdown as the fight against the global coronavirus continues.
Under the current restrictions, returning to play seems highly unlikely anytime soon, even after the country moves across to Level 3 as is expected by the end of the month.
After meeting with government and delivering an in-depth plan of action, however, the SA Rugby leadership is understood to be hopeful that they will be able to stage domestic Super Rugby matches in July or August.
There are obviously still several local derbies to be played in this year’s competition and SA Rugby is proposing that South Africa could stage its local derbies first before international travel opens up and allows the tournament to continue.
The other option for SA Rugby is to host a tournament of its own, featuring the South African Super Rugby franchises.
With the Cheetahs and the Kings unlikely to play in the PRO14 again this year, a local tournament could see them join the Sharks, Stormers, Lions and Bulls.
SA Rugby’s proposal to government was heavily centred around applying the appropriate safety measures at games, which would be played in empty stadiums. The organisation has committed to following all of the social distancing regulations, supplying on-site medical experts and to facilitate its own screening process throughout any such competition.
The Springboks’ July international against Scotland and Georgia, meanwhile, have been postponed while this year’s Rugby Championship would follow any tournaments staged at home.
The 2020 Currie Cup in October is the next possible window for South African rugby to resume.