Kings could be crossing swords with Super Rugby sides

FRESH CHALLENGE: Isuzu Southern Kings captain Howard Mnisi could soon be leading his team in a new SA competition
FRESH CHALLENGE: Isuzu Southern Kings captain Howard Mnisi could soon be leading his team in a new SA competition

The Isuzu Southern Kings could soon be part of an exciting new, locally-based derby competition if the Guinness PRO14 and Super Rugby competitions are scrapped.

If SA Rugby’s plans come to fruition SA’s two PRO14 teams — the Kings and Cheetahs — could be locking horns with the Super Rugby sides the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers in a new-look league.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has confirmed the national rugby body are in discussions with stakeholders about a number of competition models that could be implemented.

“SA Rugby are evaluating all our competition structures, with a view to restructure it in the interim so that we are able to afford game time to all our franchise and provincial teams,”  Roux said.

 “Obviously, nothing can happen in the next few weeks until the ‘period of social distancing’, as instructed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has lapsed.

 “We are considering local derby matches between our SA teams.

“We must still drill into the specifics, but we are confident we will be able to put a feasible plan on the table that will be suitable for everyone.

 “These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures and they also offer us an opportunity to be innovative.

 “We are working closely with our broadcast partner, SuperSport, and other important stakeholders and will announce plans once we are in a position to do so.”

These plans could see SA franchises and other provincial teams return to a new, locally-based derby competition in view of the suspension of Vodacom Super Rugby and the Guinness PRO 14.

The Springboks’ clash against Georgia in Port Elizabeth on July 18 would remain as scheduled but would be reviewed in April, Roux said.

The match, scheduled for the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, is set to attract a huge crowd to watch Siya Kolisi’s world champions.

 After the suspension of all national team training and alignment camps and business travel as part of a raft of measures in response to the global pandemic, director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said plans were already in place to continue with preparations.

Scheduled Springbok alignment camps, Springbok women’s training camps, as well as the Junior Springboks’ and Blitzboks’ preparations have all been suspended until April 14.

“Speaking purely from a rugby point of view, we realise no-one could prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result all of us in the game across the globe are in the same boat,” Erasmus said.

“As SA Rugby have already said, we need to ensure the wellness of players, supporters and staff as well as playing rugby’s part in helping counter the pandemic.

“Our planning for the season will carry on regardless — whether it’s the Springboks, Junior Springboks, Blitzboks or our national women’s teams — as we still have a lot to prepare for.

“While there are challenges when it comes to face-to-face interaction with players and team activities, modern communication methods make it possible for coaches, players and management teams to keep in constant contact with one another.

“Nothing beats sitting around a table or running around on the training field, but this is not a unique situation to us here in SA and without going into too much detail, we can confirm that the work has not stopped and we are hard at work preparing for our forthcoming Tests, other matches and tournaments.”