Mark Alexander concerned about SA players abroad

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

As the number of Covid-19 deaths stand on the cusp of breaking through the 10 000 barrier, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has expressed concern for South Africa’s large player contingent who earn a living abroad.

South Africa is the game’s pre-eminent exporter of professional players and the local rugby chief believes they many may be at risk, particularly in Europe where the virus has hit hard.

“We have 358 players in Europe and we worry about them too. I’ll advise them to get into contact with the South African consulates and embassies if they require assistance.”

Alexander said SA Rugby has not had contact with individual players but that they have been liaising with the local players association and he has reason to be concerned.

According to the World Health Organisation as of Saturday morning, more than 10 800 Covid-19 infections had been reported in France, 3 200 in the United Kingdom, while Italy has a staggering 41 000 reported cases.

A large percentage of South Africans who play in Europe, do so in those territories.

In Japan where 950 infections have been reported, South Africa have several marquee players.

Alexander said it is too early to speculate when leagues, including Super Rugby will resume.

The tournament was suspended last Saturday “for the foreseeable future” but rugby officials have been working around the clock to come up with a safe and acceptable return to play protocols.

“We have had teleconference meetings and it has almost been non-stop. It has been Sanzaar, World Rugby and other stakeholders at different times, day and night. It has been a tough week or so,” said Alexander.

“There is a lot of uncertainty and no-one at this stage can say when we can play again because now the priority is to contain the spread of the virus. People’s safety has to come first.”

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