Five Komani players have made the cut into the Southern Kings squad that will participate in an expanded Currie Cup competition earmarked for mid-September. The players are Yaw Penxe, Luyolo Dapula, Aaron Brody, Gareth Heidtmann and Christopher Hollis.
This was after government gave the eight professional teams – the Bulls, Cheetahs, Griquas, Kings, Lions, Pumas, Sharks, and Stormers – the go-ahead to resume non-contact training under strict conditions.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said: “Our return-to-play date is still the last weekend of this month or the first week of September. At the latest we can restart in the second week of September, which will allow us a domestic competition of sorts. It is essential for us to get the guys back on the pitch so that they can have enough game time under the belt before we embark on any international competition.”
However, Roux reiterated that the logistics on the hosting of these matches are still to be determined, due to the country’s spike in Covid-19 infections. As the process gradually moves over into full-contact training, SA Rugby’s biggest challenge becomes the actual matches taking place. Roux stated that they were negotiating with government on two scenarios – one outside the bio-bubble and one in a bio-bubble. The most likely destination is Johannesburg which has the resources and hotels, but the problem is that Jo’burg itself is classified as a Covid-19 hotspot, as are most of the other metros.
All seems on the up and waiting on the sport ministry for approval. Director-general of the department of sport, recreation, arts and culture, Vusumzi Mkhize, disclosed some startling and eagerly-awaited information with regard to the return-to-play of the professional sides.
He said: “When we receive protocol plans from a federation, we don’t necessarily enter into negotiations. It is compliance that we engage on, based on the plans that have been submitted and how they align with the regulations and directives gazetted by the minister.”
In short, what this means is that the ministry is past telling SA Rugby, who have been meticulous with the compilation of their health and safety protocols throughout, what they need to do. Fortunately, SA Rugby have been steps ahead and proactive with their plans.
Mkize further stated: “So yes, we are working with rugby. If we are going to prevent soccer from resuming in Gauteng because it is a hotspot, then the whole sporting community should not have done anything. This virus spread is affecting almost every community in the country.”
The Premier Soccer League is set to return to action on August 11 in Gauteng which paves a clear pathway for rugby to return to action in the same province, or at least in one of the other big metros.
It should be good news for locals to see Komani well represented and fans will be eager to see the stars in action for the Kings.