We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

SA Rugby working on a locally-based derby competition as a result of coronavirus disruptions

Jurie Roux (SARU CEO) during the South African launch of Guinness PRO14 at Southern Sun Cullinan on August 11, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Jurie Roux (SARU CEO) during the South African launch of Guinness PRO14 at Southern Sun Cullinan on August 11, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

The local rugby landscape may be in for a shake-up as a result of the disruptions caused by coronavirus (Covid-19).

SA Rugby announced on Wednesday their plans could see South African franchises and other provincial teams return to a new‚ locally-based derby competition in view of the current suspension of Super Rugby and the Pro 14.

Already New Zealand franchises are in advanced talks about resuming Super Rugby combat in a series of derby matches in the coming weeks‚ while over the ditch in Australia there are strong suggestions the same will apply with the Sunwolves joining the fray.

“SA Rugby is currently evaluating all our competition structures‚ with a view to restructure it in the interim so that we are able to afford game time to all our franchise and provincial teams‚” said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.

“Obviously‚ nothing can happen in the next few weeks until the ‘period of social distancing’‚ as instructed by President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ has lapsed.

“We are considering local derby matches between our South African teams. We must still drill into the specifics‚ but we are confident we will be able to put a feasible plan on the table that will be suitable for everyone.”

He said these are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures and added there now is an opportunity to be innovative.

“We are working closely with our broadcast partner‚ SuperSport‚ and other important stakeholders and will announce plans once we are in a position to do so‚” Roux added.

After the suspension of all national team training and alignment camps and business travel as part of a raft of measures in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic‚ director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said plans are already in place to continue with preparations.

Scheduled Springbok alignment camps‚ Springbok Women’s training camps‚ as well as the Junior Springboks’ and Blitzboks’ preparations have all been suspended until 14 April.

“Speaking purely from a rugby point of view‚ we realise no one could prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result‚ all of us in the game across the globe are in the same boat‚” said Erasmus.

“Our planning for the season will carry on regardless‚ whether it’s the Springboks‚ Junior Springboks‚ Blitzboks or our national women’s teams‚ as we still have a lot to prepare for.

“While there are challenges when it comes to face-to-face interaction with players and team activities‚ modern communication methods makes it possible for coaches‚ players and management teams to keep in constant contact with one another.

“Nothing beats sitting around a table or running around on the training field‚ but this is not a unique situation to us here in South Africa and without going into too much detail‚ we can confirm that the work has not stopped and we are hard at work preparing for our forthcoming Tests‚ other matches or tournaments.”

The Springboks’ mid-year Tests in July against Scotland and Georgia‚ Youth Week tournaments and Currie Cup remain as scheduled but will be reviewed in April.