South Africa’s rugby bosses are still hoping to launch their provincial competition in the second week of next month.
Crucially‚ the tournament is likely to be played on a home and away basis as teams will no longer be required to be herded into a so-called bio-bubble for the duration of the event.
“Given we are now operating under Level 2 restrictions‚ there will be no need for a bio-bubble. Besides‚ to run a tournament in a bio-bubble will be extremely expensive‚” said a provincial boss on Thursday.
Another official reminded that running the tournament will come at great cost regardless‚ due to the Covid-19 protocols that will have to be adhered to.
“Everyone involved in the tournament will have to be tested regularly. Everything needs to be clean and it isn’t cheap.”
At least the Bulls‚ Lions‚ Sharks‚ Stormers‚ Cheetahs‚ Griquas and Pumas are likely to contest the tournament on a home and away basis. The Southern Kings‚ who were supposed to be part of the line-up‚ have opted to suspend their season due financial constraints.
That will take two weeks off the playing roster‚ which will give organisers more breathing space to put together a tournament in which player welfare will be paramount.
The concern had been raised that a tight playing schedule may expose players to undue risk given the short period they will have to condition their bodies for the tournament. Rugby bosses had been waiting for government’s thumbs up to allow full contact training.
The tournament looks likely to kick off with a concept similar to Super Hero Sunday‚ which signalled the start of the season in January.
It isn’t clear which teams will form part of the opening day’s festivities but the high profile Super Rugby franchises are the most likely to be involved.