No rugby for world champion as South Africa maintains ban

Ross Houston
June 1, 2020

Minister of Sports‚ Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has clarified that professional contact sports such as football and rugby can resume fitness training only‚ exercising strict regulations laid out in the new level three national lockdown regulations.

According to Mthethwa, non-contact sports could resume under Level 3 of the lockdown provided they meet guidelines to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.

On Saturday Mthethwa belatedly attempted to explain how sport in the country would operate as South Africa moves to Covid-19 lockdown Level 3 from Monday, 1 June.

Meanwhile, South Africa Rugby's CEO Jurie Roux welcomed the announcement from the Minster and is confident of having a safe resumption of the game.

Roux said rugby had already submitted a comprehensive plan to the government and was ready to begin medical screening of players immediately, which was one of the provisions mentioned in Saturday's briefing.

Cash-strapped SA Rugby has announced salary cuts of between 25% and 43%, including for its players, this month in an effort to save up to $70 million.

Global tours by Scotland and Georgia, which were scheduled to take place in July, have been postponed but Rugby Championship matches involving the world champion Springboks against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina during August and September are still pencilled in.

There has been no top-level action in the South African soccer fraternity since early March, when the Premier Soccer League (PSL) chose to suspend amid the growing spread of the global pandemic.

Moreover, this means there could be a possible delay in the return of football matches until at the least July, as teams will require some time to prepare adequately before the restart of official matches.

"We have a very good relationship with the sports bodies", said Mkhize, discussing a meeting with football officials that had taken place on Friday.

Mthethwa explained that ALL sport, whether contact or non-contact, could resume training allowing for professional players to remain in shape. He also said there had been detailed discussions with other sports, including rugby, cricket, tennis and golf.

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