South Africa could go domestic amid coronavirus pandemic

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African Rugby may run a domestic competition featuring its six Super Rugby and PRO14 sides in a bid to keep players match fit ahead of the Springboks’ scheduled tests against Scotland and Georgia in July.

Both international franchise competitions are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and, with no resumption date set, SA Rugby are keen to keep players active and the local rugby economy alive.

The government has banned gatherings of more than 100 people, but domestic travel is open and sports events can go ahead as long as they receive the required approvals.

“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,” its CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement on Wednesday.

Nothing would however happen for several weeks until the period of social distancing as instructed by President Cyril Ramaphosa lapsed, he said.

“We are considering local derby matches between our South African teams... (and) we are confident we will be able to put a feasible plan on the table that will be suitable for everyone... (and) will announce plans once we are in a position to do so.”

Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, who led the Boks to the World Cup trophy in Japan last year, says the team is planning for their international season on the assumption it will kick off in July.

“Our planning for the season will carry on regardless we still have a lot to prepare for,” Erasmus said.

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

Reporting By Nick Said; editing by John Stonestreet