'Very unlikely': Springboks in dark over Rugby Championship

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Oct 2020, 11:59AM
All Blacks perform the haka as Springboks watch. Photo / Photosport
All Blacks perform the haka as Springboks watch. Photo / Photosport

'Very unlikely': Springboks in dark over Rugby Championship

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Oct 2020, 11:59AM

Springboks players remain in the dark whether they will be departing for the Rugby Championship in Australia on Saturday.

Yesterday South Africa Rugby were given 48 hours to decide on its involvement in the tournament amid growing concerns that the Springboks will withdraw from the first few rounds of the competition.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the world champions are set to withdraw from the first three matches of the Rugby Championship, leaving organisers scrambling to add a Barbarians team to ensure the four-team competition goes ahead later this month.

South African rugby journalist Brenden Nel told the Mike Hosking Breakfast on Newstalk ZB that it seems 'very unlikely'.

"I suppose you can't really say until they officially announce it but everything points to the fact that they won't be going," he told Mike Hosking.

"There are trying for one last ditch to shift dates and make it somehow so the South Africans can come. We were on a press conference today with the Bulls and we asked Duane Vermeulen and he said nobody has even spoken to them about the Rugby Championship just yet. If the players don't even know…they would have to be on a plane on Saturday night to begin quarantine so that seems very unlikely," Nel said.

South Africa are only into week two of their domestic competition while their New Zealand and Australian counterparts have completed full domestic competitions.

"The players are pretty underdone and would be at a significant disadvantage with New Zealand and Australia playing domestic seasons and Bledisloe tests. The whole thing of being world champions and the brand taking a knock – they couldn't actually lose quite badly and that wouldn't be great. That's seen people favour a decent domestic competition and go from there," Nel said.

"The one thing that counts in South Africa's favour is they hopefully have the Lions tour next year and they have just re-signed with one of the major banks as a sponsor and looking to re-sign with a jersey sponsor pretty soon. So things look pretty positive on the income side of things. Whether they can survive missing some decent TV cash from this tournament is anyone's guess."

The Telegraph reported yesterday that the Springboks would be available for the final three rounds of the event, with an "alternative team" being chased for the first three rounds, with both the Barbarians and Australia A being speculated as possible fillers.

Sanzaar and Rugby Australia told the Telegraph that they were unaware of any contingency plans.

Following a conference call between the Sanzaar bosses, the member unions have agreed to provide South Africa Rugby with an additional 48 hours to finalise discussions about the Springboks' participation in the Rugby Championship.

This will now delay the scheduled departure of the Springboks from South Africa to Australia.

Sanzaar will provide an update on the resolution of these discussions and a timetable for the Springboks' participation in the tournament in the coming days.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has previously expressed concerns about the welfare of his players, who haven't had much preparation due to the Covid-19 pandemic ahead of the competition.

The Bledisloe Cup fixtures between Australia and New Zealand on Saturday 31 October and Saturday 7 November in Sydney and Brisbane, are unaffected and will go ahead as scheduled.

All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree suggested yesterday that the Springboks would not make the trip to Australia for the start of the tournament.

"The disappointing thing was that they couldn't get their Currie Cup going quick enough," he said. "The longer that got delayed, the harder it was always going to be for them to get match hardened, match ready. I guess that was one of the major contributing factors.

"They're the world champions as well. For them to come down here, if they don't feel like they're ready, they're not going to put that on the line.

"Hopefully we'll still get to see them, even if they don't make the start. I don't know what the decision will be around it, but they'll want to play – it's just when."

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