SA Rugby working on schools rugby contingencies

Rassie Erasmus says SA Rugby is working closely with the SA Schools Rugby Association (Sasra) to draw up contingency plans for the 2021 rugby season. DYLAN JACK reports.

SA Rugby and Sasra officials held a virtual meeting on Tuesday, 12 January to discuss the impact of the current level-three adjusted lockdown regulations and the second wave of Covid-19 on the way forward for schools rugby in 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 schoolboy rugby calendar to be halted in March last year, while the national Youth Weeks – including the U18 Craven Week, U16 Grant Khomo Week and SA Schools international series – were all called off.

An ongoing second Covid-19 wave in South Africa has led to concerns that schoolboys could once again be robbed of an opportunity to earn themselves a professional contract, should they want to continue playing after high school.

During a wide-ranging virtual media conference on Monday, SA Rugby director of rugby Erasmus gave an update on the planning surrounding the 2021 schools rugby season.

‘I was in a meeting with Sasra, the schools’ association, and they are desperate to play,’ Erasmus explained. ‘There are lots of things that are negatively impacting the schoolboys at school and their rugby careers going forward, plus there isn’t anything that you can contract them from, no platform.

‘After that meeting where all the Sasra people were involved, we decided to postpone the return to rugby to 8 February. I know it’s only two or three weeks, but let’s see how things pan out in terms of the virus. Then we will continuously monitor and see if schools rugby can start and if the Craven Week will be on, those kinds of things.

‘If it doesn’t happen, we will give in an EPD plan to try and get the players – our databases are awesome because we have been doing this for six years, we have a database of all the players ranked from the past six years. We might miss a few because we couldn’t get to them, but then we could maybe get those guys into camps and let them play trials against each other to have some kind of platform.

‘Those are the contingency plans that we have if schools rugby doesn’t happen normally. That will be something we will deal with if we get to 8 February and the cases are still the same.’

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack