By Maxwell Levine
The 10s series has over the years become one of the premier sporting events in South Africa. It’s a culmination of different sporting codes which includes rugby, netball, soccer and a host of other activities. It stretches all over the country with different events in different towns and cities, with the finale in Cape Town, which is the biggest 10s event in the world.
These community-based events are crucial, as it brings the entire community together for one day, not only to enjoy the exhilarating sporting activities, but it also acts as a social cohesion where family and friends meet and have fun.
Hordes of players and people travel from across the country to be part of the spectacle. The towns are a hive of activity with local business also benefitting immensely.
But this year’s series has been left in tatters by the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, which has halted most sporting codes.
In Komani, the much anticipated HPJOC10s and the Fabian Juries 10s in Makhanda has been cancelled.
East London 10s had a glimmer of hope but it was dashed by the SA Rugby directive that no competitive club rugby matches will play in 2020, only TAG and Touch Rugby is allowed, which was announced a couple of weeks ago. This East London showpiece was earmarked to take place in December.
The Cape Town 10s have already announced that the event will be staged on the 5th to the 6th February 2021. Early indications are positive that this event will go ahead.
It was announced earlier this year by SA Rugby that all club rugby was cancelled, which led to the cancellation of all leagues around the country.
School rugby and national age group tournaments felt the wrath. Only the seven pro teams with the U21’s were allowed back to play when the regulations eased. That too with strict regulations and with no supporters allowed.
Restrictions on gatherings were eased in September and the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture published directions on gatherings relating to sport, arts and cultural activities on 7 October 2020. It reads:
“Sport, arts and cultural activities, including both professional and non-professional matches, by recognised bodies, can resume activities with no spectators at the venue or precinct of the venue, subject to testing in case of professional sport and screening in terms of non-professional sport. The sport body must ensure that all measures must be in place before any resumption of sporting activities.”
However, as per protocol, that is a government directive with SA Rugby the custodians of rugby in South Africa, who subsequently take a final decision, which will be filtered down to the respective unions, who in turn will instruct and inform their sub-unions and clubs.
SA Rugby have already indicated no club rugby for 2020 and amateur teams can only return to training. Even if the regulations on return to play are eased, it will be nearly impossible to stage matches without supporters. Secondly, to test and screen players and match officials will be a costly exercise which the clubs themselves have to dig deep in their own pockets for.
For now, it seems like a forgone conclusion, that we can only dream of club rugby in 2020 and the euphoria and excitement that goes hand in hand with the 10s event, will for now, remain a distant memory.