Nelson Mandela Bay rugby feels full brunt of Covid-19 curbs

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Image: Brian Witbooi

Barely a few weeks ago, expectant  Port Elizabeth rugby fans were excitedly bracing themselves for a festival of top-class international and schoolboy rugby.

But, like so many other facets of normal daily life, rugby is now feeling the full brunt of the killer Covid-19 pandemic.

One by one, top sporting events around the world have been falling like dominoes in the face of the rampant virus.

Though a final decision has yet to be made, it seems highly unlikely that Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will be hosting a Springbok rugby Test against Georgia on July 18.

It had promised to be a special occasion, with a capacity 45,000 crowd watching the Boks play their first Test in the Bay since Siya Kolisi and his men were crowned world champions in Japan last year.

Sadly, it has emerged that SA rugby chiefs have recommended that the Bay Test fall away.

However,  the November Test series in Europe, where the Springboks will play against Italy, Ireland, France and Wales later this year, will continue as usual.

Port Elizabeth had also been looking forward to hosting the cream of SA schoolboy rugby at the annual Craven Week.

In the current circumstances, it seems that event will have to be postponed until next year.

It also seems unlikely that Port Elizabeth will see any more Guinness PRO14 matches because the season has been postponed indefinitely.

The SuperSport Rugby Challenge, which is scheduled to kick off on April 25, is set to become another Covid-19 victim.

If this happens, it will be a huge setback not only for  rugby fans but for the overall economy of the Eastern Cape.

A Test match and Craven Week would both have been huge money spinners for the region.

It has been estimated that if the coronavirus restrictions continue and all rugby matches are limited, SA Rugby is set to lose about R200m.

While rugby fans might have reason to be feeling deflated, there are bigger issues at play here.

The health of the nation and rugby players must be the prime concern at present.

This is more important than any game of rugby!

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