Target date for return of rugby in SA

Howard Mnisi of the Southern Kings during the Guinness Pro14 match between Isuzu Southern Kings and Connacht Rugby at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on March 01, 2020 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Howard Mnisi of the Southern Kings during the Guinness Pro14 match between Isuzu Southern Kings and Connacht Rugby at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on March 01, 2020 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Image: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

The return of competitive rugby in South Africa has a target date.

The PRO14 has set its resumption target date for Saturday‚ August 22 across all five of its competing territories‚ which means the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings are due for combat that weekend.

The return date‚ however‚ is subject to government and SA Rugby ratification.

“That’s the way I understand it but this is very exciting‚” enthused Robbi Kempson‚ Southern Kings high performance director.

“Obviously the governments in the UK‚ Ireland‚ Italy and here have different protocols and requirements in place‚ so we’ll have to wait and see but at least we have a target date‚” said Kempson.

The sides will be involved in derby matches earmarked for the two competing PRO14 teams respectively in Italy‚ Scotland and South Africa. The two teams from each territory play back-to-back fixtures‚ while the derby fixtures for the teams in Ireland and Wales have yet to be confirmed and will be announced in line with kick-off times and broadcast selections.

The target date was agreed at the PRO14 board meeting last week based upon the information currently available from each jurisdiction in which the competition is played.

“Since announcing an indefinite suspension of match action in March‚ the tournament team at PRO14 Rugby has worked alongside key medical personnel at our unions and clubs as well as key stakeholders such as World Rugby to map out a return to action‚” the competition said in a statement.

“With rigorous protocols outlined for training‚ game-day logistics and match play‚ PRO14 Rugby is confident that proposals submitted by our unions to governments across the UK‚ Ireland‚ Italy and South Africa will allow our teams get back on the pitch. Discussions around these proposals will be ongoing between each union and their respective governments.”

The 2019-20 season will have an abbreviated finish that features the most attractive match-ups and rivalries from the competition with two rounds of derby games in each territory counting towards final positions.

This will cut the regular season from 21 game rounds to 15. Games postponed prior to the indefinite suspension will be deemed 0-0 draws as previously stated.

The postponed round 13 fixtures of Zebre Rugby Club v Ospreys and Benetton Rugby v Ulster have been deemed 0-0 draws and all four teams will have two points added to their totals as a result.

The season will be concluded across four consecutive weekends with the PRO14 final targeted for Saturday‚ September 12. The two teams that finish top of their conferences will qualify for a semifinal stage in order to compete for places in the final.

PRO14 Rugby will consider the latest information in the territories that knockout games could take place before making a final decision on the venues.

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