Test matches expected to take priority over Super Rugby in scramble to salvage 2020 calendar

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander and his governing body are working hard behind the scenes.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander and his governing body are working hard behind the scenes.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

If‚ due to Covid-19‚ there has to be a sacrificial lamb on the South African rugby calendar‚ Super Rugby appears to be at most risk.

The July Test matches against Scotland and Georgia outranks it in order of importance‚ while the Rugby Championship scheduled to start in August is of even greater importance.

“That is certainly how the broadcaster would want it‚” said one well-placed source.

“The Test matches would definitely take priority‚” he added.

The Springboks are due to play Scotland on 4 and 11 July followed by a one-off Test against Georgia a week later.

While SA Rugby may prefer those matches to go ahead‚ they are at greater risk of not being played. The Tests involve international travel which will require different governments having to agree on various health and safety protocols.

SA Rugby does‚ however‚ have a bit of time on their side and can even move those fixtures back a month if a suitable Super Rugby playing schedule can be agreed upon by the Sanzaar alliance.

Although the Tests will take priority‚ the source said they may be moved to a later slot on the calendar as will the Rugby Championship which he described in monetary terms as “the cherry on the cake”.

With Super Rugby already compromised‚ its match schedule is more likely to be altered to fit the rest of the fixture list.

Sanzaar officials are understandably tight-lipped about the different return-to-play scenarios they are currently weighing up.

There is a huge amount of uncertainty as the governments in South Africa‚ Australia‚ Japan‚ Argentina and New Zealand have different restrictions in place.

Rugby Australia is considering having their players return to the field next month‚ while New Zealand are upbeat about how they have levelled the curve of the rate of infections.

New Zealand went into full lockdown on March 19 and the earliest they will emerge from it is the 16th of this month.

Japan this week declared a state of emergency as the rate of infection increased and it is unlikely any sport will be played there in the foreseeable future.

When Super Rugby does return it is most likely to start in Australia and in front of empty stadia.

 


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