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Sport24.co.za | SA Rugby boss: Returning to play ‘critical’ for industry

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux says that returning to the playing field as soon as possible is “critical” for the game in South Africa.

This comes after a meeting on Friday where the South African rugby ‘industry’ took further steps to prepare a long-term strategy to combat the impact
of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers,
players, staff and SA Rugby have combined in business continuity planning aimed
at cost saving in the face of expected shortfall in revenues.

The plan
has been formulated in a joint working group (the COVID-19 Management
Committee) including SA Rugby, the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation
(SAREO), MyPlayers (representing the players) and Sports Employees’ Unite (SEU
– the rugby staffs’ trade union).

The
Committee’s joint proposal has begun a round of presentations to union
presidents and CEOs as well as through the MyPlayers and SEU channels.

“We have
workshopped a number of scenarios based on potential return-to-play dates and identified the most likely
financial scenario based on rugby resuming in the third quarter of 2020,” said
Roux.

“The
industry came together virtually on day one of this crisis to frame a united
response.

“This is
not an SA Rugby problem or a unions’ problem, it is everyone’s problem and we
are very clear that we have to stand together if we are to overcome it.

“The
progression and response to the virus unfolds on a daily basis so we do not
have a confirmed domestic or international calendar for the rest of 2020, but
we have made plans for every eventuality.

“Returning
to play as soon as possible is critical for the industry and until we know what
that date is – and if it is sustainable in the face of the crisis – we cannot
accurately understand the impacts.

“However,
we have taken a realistic approach to the potential damage and have formulated
a plan that will mitigate the immediate damage and provide the basis for an
on-going response.”

Once
approved the plan would be made public, said Roux.

“These are
dark times but we are united in our approach and determined that together we
will get through this.”

The
grouping urged the rugby community to strictly observe the lockdown directives
of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Timeline:
COVID-19 and South African Rugby

– 11 March: COVID-19 Management Committee meets for the first time

– 12 March: PRO14 season is suspended indefinitely

– 13 March: World Rugby cancels the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series tournament, that was due to be played in Stellenbosch on 28 and 29 March

– 13 March: SA Rugby cancels Junior Springbok home and away internationals in April and May

– 14 March: SANZAAR suspends Vodacom Super Rugby for the foreseeable future

– 16 March: SA Rugby suspends all national team training camps and business travel and orders cost savings; postpones kick off of SuperSport Rugby Challenge with a view to return to play on 25 April

– 16 March: SA Rugby announces actions and issues guidelines on safe practices to all rugby bodies

– 18 March: SA Rugby announces suspension of all rugby until the end of April and that discussions are underway to reschedule competitions to exclude international travel and be played behind closed doors.

– 20 March: World Rugby cancels the Junior World Championship scheduled for Italy in June

– 23 March: President Cyril Ramaphosa announces nationwide lockdown to start from midnight on 26 March

– 24 March: IOC postpones the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021

– 27 March: SA Rugby, MyPlayers (players’ organisation), the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO) and Sports Employees’ Unite (SEU) confirm establishment of a joint working group to manage the response to the crisis

– SA Rugby media

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