- Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie has laid bare the reality that rescheduling of postponed Super Rugby Unlocked matches is nigh on impossible.
- While player welfare remains an issue, the biggest stumbling block is SA Rugby’s own Covid-19 testing protocols.
- Fourie believes it’s probably better to be merely “hopeful” of an unaffected upcoming Currie Cup.
Covid-19 testing protocols rather than player workload concerns have emerged as the main reason why it’s virtually impossible for SA Rugby to re-schedule postponed matches in Super Rugby Unlocked.
Despite the announcement earlier this week that Saturday’s coastal derby between the Sharks and Stormers has been cancelled, two Lions fixtures – at least from franchise CEO Rudolf Straeuli’s perspective – against the Cheetahs and Pumas are still considered merely postponed.
According to Hawies Fourie, the Cheetahs’ head coach, that’s a pipedream.
“Unless some weekends are going to be opened up for the domestic campaign to be extended by a few weeks, then it’s practically impossible to make up those matches,” he said on Thursday, ahead of his charges’ concluding Unlocked fixture against Griquas in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
“You can’t play three matches in eight days. It’s not just about the amount of game-time the players have to deal with in such a short space of time as well as recovery, but also testing regulations.”
The federation’s carefully crafted protocols dictate that teams may not conduct their mandatory, weekly testing within 48 hours at the conclusion of a match.
And when there’s a midweek fixture scheduled to make up for its initial postponement, the knock-on effect is substantial.
“If you played on a Saturday night, you can only test the players on a Tuesday morning, meaning you only get the results later in the day,” said Fourie.
“Assuming a Wednesday timeslot has been assigned to make up for a postponed game, that means you have to travel on the Tuesday. But you can’t finalise your match group if you don’t know which of your players have tested negative. How can you travel under such circumstances?
“Let’s say, however, you play on the Wednesday afternoon or evening, it means that you can only test again on the Saturday morning, on the traditional game day. You can’t do group contact training if you don’t have your results too. So logistically it’s almost impossible.”
As a result, it seems that the local rugby fraternity can merely be “hopeful” that there are no more Covid disruptions to the upcoming Currie Cup.
“There are simply no guarantees this season,” said Fourie.
“Let’s just hope that the Currie Cup’s itinerary is played in full and that it’s a strong competition.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 16:30.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Junior Pokomela (captain)/Aidon Davis, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Hencus van Wyk, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Boan Venter
Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Aidon Davis/Chris Massyn, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 William Small-Smith
15 Masixole Banda, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger (captain), 8 Carl Els, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli.
Substitutes (from): 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Madot Mabokela, 19 Ewan Coetzee, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Andre Swarts, 23 Daniel Kasende, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Sibabalo Qoma, 26 Ashlon Davids