Virus has further impact on World Rugby schedule
World Rugby made further amendments to its playing schedule this weekend by cancelling and postponing more events due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
This year’s World Rugby U20 Championship, scheduled for northern Italy in June and July, has been cancelled after detailed consultation with the Federazione Italiana Rugby.
World Rugby has also postponed the Sevens series tournaments in London and Paris provisionally until September and the women’s Sevens series tournament in Langford until later in the year.
They have also postponed the final men’s Sevens challenger series event until later in the year, while some Rugby World Cup 2021 and 2023 qualifying matches will also be moved to later dates.
The cancellation of the U20 Championship scheduled for hard hit cities Verona, Viadana, Calvisano and Parma was perhaps inevitable.
World Rugby’s announcement followed SA Rugby decision last week that an international series featuring the national U20 teams of Georgia and Argentina as well as the junior Boks, which was set to take place in SA in April, has been cancelled as well as a planned tour by the team to the UK in May.
“It is obviously very disappointing for Chean Roux, his players and the team management, but these drastic steps are vital to ensure the safety of the players, team management and match officials,” SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, and as world citizens it is important that we all take the necessary measures to try to contain this pandemic.
“I would like to thank the players, coaches and management for all their hard work in the last few months, and encourage them to keep on putting in the hard yards, albeit outside a team set-up given the current need for social distancing.”
Junior Boks coach Roux said: “We will continue to monitor the situation and start planning possible scenarios with the director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and his department regarding the way forward for the Junior Springboks and the U19 high performance squad for the rest of the season.”
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux said: “Yes, we are disappointed but everyone understands the situation and we’ll do whatever is needed to play our part in curbing this pandemic.
“Working with the players over the last few months, I’ve realised yet again what immense talent we have at our disposal at junior level, and I believe that many of these players have bright futures ahead.”
World Rugby said: “These latest decisions have been taken in consultation with the respective unions and follows previously confirmed postponements of the Hong Kong and Singapore rounds of the Sevens series and women’s Sevens challenger series event in Stellenbosch.
“They have been taken in line with the relevant government and public health authority advice.”