The South African Rugby Union has voted to withdraw its four teams from Super Rugby, signaling a major realignment of the game in the country.
At a SA Rugby Special General Meeting, the body decided in favour of entering the Vodacom Bulls, the Emirates Lions, the Cell C Sharks, and the DHL Stormers into an expanded European PRO14, effectively ending franchise competition against sides from Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
Pro14 is a joint venture between the rugby unions of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy. The highly lucrative European television market as well as more favourable time zones and travel logistics are believed to be the reasons behind the move, with the Cheetahs and Southern Kings having played in the PRO14 since 2017. Both teams will now be replaced with the competition set to be expanded to a Pro16 to accommodate the big four. The Cheetahs have a contract to play in the Pro14 until at least the 2022-23 season, and have engaged legal advice.
The move follows the decision by the New Zealand Rugby Union to proceed with a domestic or trans-Tasman competition, and in doing so the SARU have rejected the option of remaining in a Pro14 format with the Toyota Cheetahs and a replacement for the Southern Kings, who have gone in to liquidation.
““New Zealand’s decision made it impossible to deliver the 14-team Vodacom Super Rugby competition that had been agreed by the partners and for which five-year broadcasting agreements had been signed. Our members are excited about the prospect of closer alignment with the PRO Rugby Championship and seeking a northern hemisphere future, but we would not have been taking this decision but for actions elsewhere,” SA Rugby chief executive Jourie Roux said in a statement.
“These are extraordinary times,” SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said.
“If this had been an ordinary year, we would not have had this meeting.
“But we needed to take radical steps to avoid financial meltdown because of the COVID-19 crisis.”
The three-time Rugby World Cup champions the Springboks will remain part of the Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship for the foreseeable future. Speaking before the vote, Rassie Erasmus who masterminded the last of South Africa’s World Cup wins in Japan last year, was positive about the move.
“The first benefit is that as a fan, you’ll be watching the game in the same time zone. You’ll watch it in the afternoon, have a braai and a few beers with mates. It makes a difference,’ he said.
“For us as coaches and players, you can get on a plane, sleep on it and actually play the next day. That’s nice, for broadcasting and for your own planning. There are regular flights that you can get everywhere.”
Two Zimbabwean Cricketers Test Positive for Covid-19
Regis Chakabva and Timycen Maruma have tested positive for Coronavirus, Zimbabwe Cricket have confirmed.
Both players who are not part of the Zimbabwean team currently touring Pakistan, were room mates for a week in a bio-secure bubble set for players on standby at the ZC Academy House in Harare.
Also, two members of staff providing support services at the same facility tested positive to the coronavirus after screening and tests were done to close contacts of Chakabva and Maruma.
The rest of the Chevrons tested negative before leaving for Pakistan and upon arrival. They are set to undergo another round of coronavirus test at the end of their quarantine period.
Chakabva, Maruma and the two infected backroom staffs are observing a period of self-isolation in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.
“We wish the four a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming them back to work soon,” ZC said in a statement.
“The health and well-being of our players, and staff, remains our highest priority at ZC.
“Therefore, apart from providing support to those infected, and affected, we will continue to adhere to Government and public health guidelines with regards to our facilities and staff and will be taking further steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“In the meantime, ZC has temporarily closed the Academy House for disinfection.”
The Chevrons are scheduled to face Pakistan in three one-day international matches in Rawalpindi.
All three ODIs will be day-night affairs.
Kaizer Chiefs Duo Position Under Threat
Coach of South African Premier League side Kaizer Chiefs, Gavin Hunt says his experienced players Willard Katsande and Bernard Parker are not guaranteed starters in his team anymore as he has impressive young players coming through the ranks.
Hunt made a promise to give playing opportunities to young talents after he was impressed with their performance in their MTN8 quarter-final victory over Maritzburg United.
Hunt has specifically mentioned Katsande and Parker as players who’s position in the team is under threat from the young players.
“These guys [Katsande and Parker] have given some unbelievable service to football. They have won a lot of trophies, they have been here for some time,” Hunt said.
“I understand that people are always looking for something special. But until somebody comes up, like right now with our situation, and puts his hand up and says ‘I am willing.’ Willard and Bernard both know that these young players are good like the young [Njabulo] Bloem in Katsande’s place.
“He had a fantastic game [against Maritzburg United], came on and changed the game. But he has to be on a consistency level of playing. I have to give him opportunities, which I will do.
“And he has to keep on challenging Willard, and Willard has to say, ‘These people are on my case.’ Like in all sports, like in boxing when you get older, somebody is going to be better than you.
“Same as Bernard, he has some young boys up there, the [Lebogang] Lesako, [Keletso] Sifama coming up. These boys are going to be challenging him. But right now I don’t see players being put out of position unless somebody really puts his hand up and says, ‘Right, I’m here.’ Look at Bloem on Sunday.”
Parker played the whole 90mins against Maritzburg, while Katsande was suspended for the game.
Chiefs first game of the new Premier Soccer League season will be against rivals Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.
Cricket South Africa given permission to host England in November
The Ministry of Sports, Art and Culture has given Cricket South Africa (CSA) the permission to proceed with the limited Overs tour against world champions, England.
The ICC World Cup champions, England will arrive the country in mid-November due to the Covid-19 protocols.
Two ODI matches and two T20 matches will be played at Newlands Stadium, one ODI and one T20 match will be played at the Eurolux Boland Park, Paarl, as the tour will be limited to the Western Cape.
“This is a wonderful boost for cricket and, although all the matches will have to be played behind closed doors, I am sure that our Proteas fans will rally behind South Africa’s favourite team as they always do, but just on alternative digital and social media platforms,” the CSA Acting Chief Executive Kugandrie Govender said.
“The fact that England are the current World Cup champions will add tremendously to the two series and will give our own players every motivation to perform at their very best to challenge the reigning champions.”
Govender further said that the match was made possible by the support of the South African government.
“I would like to express CSA’s sincere gratitude to the Departments of Sport, Arts & Culture; Home Affairs; and Health, for the support they have given us to make this return to international cricket in our country a reality, while maintaining that health and safety for all remains the number one priority,” added Govender.
Govender conclude by saying that the tour will reignite the country’s international cricket season.
“While CSA, in partnership with government, has been working really hard to secure the Series, we are thrilled that the tournament will reignite our international cricket season and after the tough year South Africa and the world has experienced, we look forward to bringing cricket joy to our fans, players, and stakeholders.”
“These exciting developments also coincide with CSA’s return to office next week, which we are thrilled about,” concluded Govender.
CSA also thanked England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for their support.
“This is a first for us and we commit to learn quickly and with great responsiveness as we have an action-packed international season ahead of us,” continued Govender.
ECB’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said they are looking forward to the tour.
“We are looking forward to touring South Africa. I would like to personally thank Cricket South Africa for their efforts in ensuring this tour goes ahead and their diligent work to create an environment that is safe for our players and staff.They are working tirelessly to pull together a bio-secure plan in Cape Town and Paarl.
“We owe it to the sport that we do everything we can to keep international competition progressing during this pandemic.
“Series against the Proteas are always exciting and intense. We saw that earlier this year in South Africa and we can expect the same this time around.”
The tour will include three T20 Internationals and three One-Day International matches to take place from November 27 to December 9 2020. Teams will only be allowed to play intra-squad tune up matches.
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