SA Rugby has offered to host the rest of the Rugby Championship, after the Springbok’s fixture in New Zealand was cancelled, and then the Kiwis also pulled out of this weekend’s game in Perth against Australia.
Strict COVID-19 measures are in place in Australia and New Zealand leaving the remaining fixtures of the Rugby Championship in doubt.
South Africa and Argentina were meant to travel to Australia on Sunday and that has been cancelled as the two squads await further instructions.
Meanwhile, the Springboks are preparing for their second Rugby Championship test match against Argentina in Gqeberha on Saturday evening. Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is set to win his 56th test cap for South Africa when he leads his side out against the Pumas in the second round of the Rugby Championship.
Had it not been for a global COVID-19 pandemic, he would have had at least 10 more caps and would possibly have been going for test cap number 70 at this stage. Kolisi says the Boks are grateful to be playing rugby and they hope to play more by any means necessary.
“We missed a whole year of rugby and so at this moment, we will do anything to continue playing. We don’t know what is going to happen with this virus in the future, so we are appreciating the time that we have and we are in a very privileged position in this time when people are losing so much, we are able to do what we love when people are losing jobs. We are still able to play. We can see what is happening in our country, we are not even looking at the rest of the world, we can still play. So we have no excuses. We can’t complain. So that does motivate us,” says Kolisi.
It’s arguably a stronger Bok team than the one that beat Argentina last weekend in the first round of the tournament, but Kolisi and the Boks would like to emphasise the role of the squad as opposed to the strongest starting fifteen.
‘When we first started in 2018, that’s one of the points coach Rassie and the management said. winning, transformation and squad depth were the three things we wanted to achieve seeing what’s happening and seeing guys getting opportunities and working hard during the week. We challenge each other as much as we are all playing for South Africa but we are competing in healthy competition as well against each other as players. To see the guys come on and put in a strong performance against Argentina means we are slowly getting to where we want to be,” Kolisi added.
Given the current circumstances of the pandemic and the uncertainty of the Rugby Championship, the Springbok squad is about as close-knit as they can be – having lived together in a bubble for months now. Backline coach, Mzwandile Stick says the team will continue to co-exist together even though they won’t be boarding their flight on Sunday.
“We are not going to release the players on Sunday after the game. So hopefully we will get a good result and we can just focus on whatever plan that’s going to come after, but we trust our boardroom. We trust our executive members and our director of rugby that they will do everything in their power to make sure we get a chance to finish the tournament and play irrespective of if it is in South Africa or the UK, but we welcome whatever is going to come.” says Stick.
Saturday’s test match is just about the only thing the players can be certain of at this moment. They’ll play every minute like there is no tomorrow.