By Maxwell Levine
School and club rugby received a massive boost last week with the announcement by SA Rugby that rugby can resume later this month.
This after a year of in-activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in a total shut down of school sport and amateur rugby across the country.
Clubs can start as soon as the April 12, with school’s rugby resuming a little later on Friday April 23.
The decision was made following an announcement by the Department of Basic Education that it had made an Amendment of Direction in terms of Regulation 4(3) under the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act 57 of 2002), published in the Government Gazette No 44339 of 27 March 2021, indicating that schools can resume matches and national tournaments without spectators, subject to compliance with the relevant health and safety measures.
In accordance with SA Rugby’s return-to-play protocols, which make player safety and welfare key priorities, clubs have received the green light to advance from contact training back to playing matches.
However, this is based on the provision that all Covid-19 protocols are strictly adhered to and that every club player must have completed the compulsory four-week contact training – with the vision that they return to play at the earliest on April 23.
The timing of this announcement is perfect, with Border generally starting their league fixtures usually after he Easter Weekend.
‘We were delighted to receive the news that schools rugby can recommence as announced by the Department of Basic Education, and we share in the schools and club players excitement to return to the field, ‘SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said.
‘However, we will not take any risks. Player safety is of utmost importance to us and, as the custodians of rugby in South Africa, it is imperative that the return-to-play protocols that were followed by our professional teams be applied at schools and club level as well.
‘These protocols were designed based on medical evidence with the purpose of ensuring that the players bodies are ready to cope with the impact of full contact and to keep injuries to a minimum.
‘It would be remiss of us to allow the excitement of returning to play overshadow player safety. Any Schools and clubs that defy these protocols will do so at their own risk.
‘The fact that these players have missed out on a year of their rugby development, with some of them having missed crucial U16 age group, which will see them being thrust into the U18 and U19 age group, makes it critical that every precaution is taken to ease their transition back into rugby.’
In a couple of weeks, we can see live action around fields in the Border region, from Mlungisi Stadium to Victoria Grounds in King Williams Town, to Mooiplaas, to Mdantsane and East London, we will hear the chants at Berlin Fields to Cumakala, all the way to Nqamakwe and Tsolomqa