Frustrated Boks in race against time

The Sprinboks' Lukhanyo Am
NO PREPARATION: The Sprinboks' Lukhanyo Am
Image: GETTY IMAGES/ANTHONY AU-YEUNG

They say time waits for no man and that adage has gained new significance for the frustrated Springbok rugby team.

Desperate to strut their stuff on the international stage, the world champions have been kept caged and their chances of playing again in 2020 are looking increasingly slim.

Already the inbound tours by Scotland and Georgia that had been scheduled for July have been cancelled and there will be no attempt to play them later in the year.

The Test against Georgia had been scheduled to have been played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

With the clock ticking and Covid-19 return-to-play restrictions conspiring against them, the Springboks may be forced to pull out of the Rugby Championship.

The world champions, who are still sitting on the sidelines, are scheduled to travel to New Zealand to play the Rugby Championship in a bio-bubble in November.

Rivals New Zealand and Australia have a head start on the Boks because they are already playing domestic competitions.

But, with a start date for professional rugby in SA yet to be decided, the Boks may not have enough time to get crucial pre-tournament game time under their belt.

Apart from missing out on being involved in a prestigious event, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has warned there would be commercial losses to weigh up if the Boks did not travel to New Zealand.

SA Rugby has already been hit by the cancellation of the Cape Town Sevens which had been scheduled for early December.

While SA Rugby aim for a late August restart to domestic play, Stormers coach John Dobson has predicted that a mid-September kickoff is looking more likely.

Many will agree with his sentiments as preparations for a restart are ramped up.

Professional rugby teams have returned to group training, but there are still fears they will be not be adequately prepared for tournament play.

New Bok coach Jacques Nienaber says his men will need at least six matches in a domestic tournament to be ready for the Rugby Championship.

The Bok coach said his players would need to have an extended run of domestic matches and everything now depends on whether they will be able to get valuable game time.

It would be wrong to send a proud Bok team overseas without sufficient preparation.

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