South Africa Rugby is planning to resume professional rugby next month after receiving green-light from the government for full-contact training sessions and games without spectators.
The news was announced by South Africa’s Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa on Thursday.
Despite, the clearance, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux believes it will take at least a month for the teams to feature in competitive games as they prepare for a safe return to play.
“Since the start of this pandemic, we have been working hard at ensuring we get back on the field and we’ve kept the government informed on our plans throughout the process,” said Roux.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to move to the next phase of our return-to-play plans and will provide the department with all the necessary information required, such as venues for matches, to ensure a smooth transition to competitive rugby.
“Having said that, our eight franchise teams that returned to the training field recently still need a few more weeks of preparation before they will be ready for matches, and from SA Rugby’s side we will assist them with whatever is necessary.
“At this stage, we hope to have our first matches by early to mid-September and our plans on the structure of the planned competition will be announced in due course, as we have various options to consider.”
Earlier, Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Cheetahs, Southern Kings, Griquas and Pumas resumed non-contact training a few backs and now will be looking to step up their preparations further after the government's latest announcement.
Domestic competitions in South Africa have been suspended since March while the Springboks were last seen on the field when they clinched the World Cup in Japan last year.