Window shrinking for SA's domestic 'Super Rugby' product
Stormers coach John Dobson struggles to see how South African rugby can host a domestic version of Super Rugby as well as the Currie Cup in 2020.
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As the nation-wide lockdown in the fight against the global coronavirus continues, the window for SA Rugby to get their professional franchises back on the field this year is shrinking.
Super Rugby was suspended in March after seven rounds of fixtures.
Earlier this week, New Zealand announced that they would be getting back on the field from June 13 with a tournament called the Super Rugby Aotearoa, which will include all five of their Super Rugby franchises.
SA Rugby has been planning something similar as a replacement for Super Rugby and had initially wanted to stage the tournament between July and August, but with the country still in level four of its lockdown, it is difficult to see that happening anytime soon.
Speculating on what the immediate future might look like, Dobson reckons there might not be enough time to stage a unique local competition with the Super Rugby franchises as well as a Currie Cup in 2020.
"There was a strong argument that we'd have to play Super Rugby because of the commercial rights around that, but the way we're going, it's hard to see us starting before, I think, even July," he said in a video press conference on Tuesday.
"Then we'd still have to squeeze a Currie Cup in? I think it's looking more like it's going to be a big Currie Cup going late in the year. I just don't see how we would play a Super Rugby tournament in August/September and then go play a Currie Cup after that and then hopefully still get some internationals. I think our options are becoming more and more limited."
One of the main issues, of course, will be getting the players into a state of match readiness following what would have been months in isolation.
"We are planning, but the problem is more a practical one for us in terms of conditioning," Dobson added.
"When we started this lockdown, we were looking at three weeks and then getting back to work. There was a formula of two to one, so if you were off for two weeks it would take one to get you ready to play again, and now I think that has been dramatically extended.
"We've now had a full off-season, so we'll need a full pre-season.
"We were keeping the players on a short readiness, now we're pulling them right back to look at more muscular-skeletal and long-term strength.
"We can speculate as much as we like, but with the length of the whole thing and the prognosis in South Africa, we're going to have to have a full pre-season before we're physically ready to play again."