With the announcement by president Cyril Ramaphosa on February 28 that the country had moved to lockdown level 1, SA rugby also announced that club rugby, from under-19 level upwards, will be permitted to move to contact training (phase 2 of the integrated return to train and play) from Monday, March 15, provided all players had undertaken non-contact training for at least four weeks.
Due to this announcement and with the infection rate on a downward curve, a recommendation was made by the SA Rugby working group, consisting of members of SA Rugby, provincial unions and the SA Rugby executive committee who subsequently approved that amateur rugby, above under-18 level, will be permitted to move to phase 2.
This means that contact training can start, provided teams completed their phase 1 non-contact training four weeks ago. Every club player must have completed the four weeks non-contact training.
However, schools and junior club teams (U18 and below) are not permitted to move to phase 2 of training strategy, and no amateur matches are allowed to take place, including club rugby.
“The final decision regarding whether a club can start non-contact training or continue with contact training will rest with the relevant union and/or the chairperson or compliance officer of the specific club,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“Schools rugby falls under the auspices of the department of basic education (DBE) and will remain on non-contact training until such a time as the DBE permits these teams to progress in their preparations. These restrictions include all club sides from U8 to U18 level.
“We are expecting a decision by the DBE on the next steps for schools in due course and are working closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure swift progress in this regard.”
The return to play for amateur rugby, which is phase 3, will be considered next month.
Schools and clubs are hopeful that by the end of May or early June some sort of rugby will be played. First team rugby is of utmost importance for school rugby players, as it is the pinnacle of any school rugby player’s career. That also opens the door to be scouted by unions, with the hope of signing a junior contract.