Scotland will visit South Africa at all later in the year has been plunged into
considerable new doubt ... and would probably require the opening of a new
international window period for the tour to take place.
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scheduled to tackle the World Cup-holding Springboks in a two-Test series in mid-winter - including a fitting major-rugby swansong for Newlands in the first clash on
4 July, and then a Kings Park tussle a week later - the more feasible
likelihood is that, as already speculated, the Scots may instead come in
October, after the 2020 Rugby Championship (August and September).
rugby on our shores as early as July seems a long shot at present, given the
enduring lockdowns here and abroad and a multitude of other matters related to
the crippling global coronavirus crisis.
Test match initially planned for that period - against Georgia on 18 July - is
tipped to fall away if the inbound clashes do get switched to October.
international roster for the remainder of 2020 is up in the air, with World
Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont, who captained the 1980 British and Irish Lions
in South Africa, even warning earlier this week of a “distinct possibility” of
no Tests occurring at all.
slightly more upbeat note, the global body stated on its official website on
Thursday: “In tandem with an
extensive financial assessment, World Rugby, in full partnership with Six Nations,
Sanzaar, unions (in consultation with their leagues) and International Rugby
Players, continues to progress a variety of return-to-rugby plans, including
the delivery of a viable 2020 international competition calendar subject to the
relevant government and health authority advice.
“This includes likely short-term reshaping of the
international rugby calendar, optimising competition opportunities for unions
and domestic leagues. As a prudent precaution, further scenario planning
factors in a competition environment where cross-hemisphere travel might not be
possible and, in the worst-case scenario, where no international rugby is
possible this year.”
Under existing global arrangements, October
would not normally be a period allowing for Test windows (where
clubs/franchises are required to release relevant players from their
A conventional window is due again, after
all, in November, when Springbok end-of-year-tour opponents in the northern
hemisphere are scheduled to be Italy, Ireland, France and Wales.
This might give rise to speculation that SA
Rugby would be open to the idea of Test activity against the Scots “out of the
window” - something that has happened before.
It could, for example, mean the possibility
of South Africa fielding an all home-based team against Scotland, who might
similarly look “experimental” on paper if visiting here minus certain staple
They have not played on SA soil since June
2014, when the Boks routed them 55-6 in Port Elizabeth, flyhalf Handre
Pollard’s debut for the host nation.
But a senior source at SA Rugby
headquarters indicated to Sport24 that changes to the roster are far likelier
to occur by the book.
He said the year’s global Test rescheduling
was being co-ordinated centrally, with World Rugby intimately involved and an
“all in this together” spirit prevailing.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing