Unprepared South Africa pull out | Sunday Observer

Unprepared South Africa pull out

18 October, 2020

World Cup-holders South Africa pulled out of the Rugby Championship Friday over complications caused by the coronavirus, badly diminishing the tournament and raising further questions about their future in southern hemisphere rugby.

The Springboks, who haven’t played since winning their third World Cup in Japan nearly a year ago, cited government travel restrictions, player welfare and safety concerns for their withdrawal.

It means the competition in Australia from October 31 will be slashed from 12 games to six, involving only Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. The pull-out by the defending champions also prompted speculation about future editions of the Rugby Championship, after South Africa walked away from the southern hemisphere’s provincial-level Super Rugby last month in favour of Europe’s PRO14.

South African Rugby chief Jurie Roux said the withdrawal was a “hugely disappointing outcome for supporters and commercial partners. Coach Jacques Nienaber wanted close to 500 minutes.

There were suggestions they could be replaced by a Barbarians side or Australia A to ensure the four-team draw stayed intact, but organisers opted to return the tournament to its former Tri-Nations format.