South Africa Rugby has confirmed withdrawal from the upcoming Rugby Championship tournament that is set to kick-off on 31st October in Australia.
South Africa last played during the victorious World Cup campaign last year and their domestic competitions were suspended since March following the pandemic coronavirus.
While New Zealand and Australia had their own domestic competitions, South Africa were only cleared to start contact training earlier this month and SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux believes participation in the tournament might risk player welfare.
The news follows after SANZAAR had given a 48-hour deadline to SA Rugby to confirm their participation in the tournament.
“With time essentially having run out, it left us with no option,” he said.
“This is a hugely disappointing outcome for our supporters and commercial partners but the on-going impacts of the pandemic in multiple dispensations means we are unable to deliver a Springbok team without seriously compromising player welfare.
“SANZAAR and Rugby Australia have bent over backwards to make the tournament happen and it would have been unfair on them, their partners and state government to delay a decision any longer.”
Roux also said that it will be a challenge with the current restrictions to involve a potential 24 players, who are plying trade overseas in the squad for the tournament in Australia.
“Players in England, Ireland, France and Japan are subject to differing local regulations and travel protocols and potentially imminent renewed lockdowns in some territories,” he added.
“It was unclear when they would be able to become functioning members of the Springbok squad in Australia.
“We understand that public safety concerns come first and there’s no way that we could expect short cuts to be found to get them out of their host countries and into the Springbok bubble.
“But the impact on our planning was profound and took us to a bottom line that we could not in fairness commit to being able to compete.”