All elements of the South African rugby ‘industry’ have come together in an unprecedented act of unity to prepare a long-term strategy to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employers, players, staff and SA Rugby have combined in business continuity planning aimed at cost saving in the face of expected shortfall in revenues.
The plan has been formulated in a joint working group (the COVID-19 Management Committee) including SA Rugby, the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO), MyPlayers (representing the players) and Sports Employees’ Unite (SEU – the rugby staffs’ trade union).
The Committee’s joint proposal has begun a round of presentations to union presidents and CEOs as well as through the MyPlayers and SEU channels.
“We have workshopped a number of scenarios based on potential return-to-play dates and identified the most likely financial scenario based on rugby resuming in the third quarter of 2020,” said Jurie Roux, the CEO of SA Rugby.
“The industry came together virtually on day one of this crisis to frame a united response.
“This is not an SA Rugby problem or a unions’ problem, it is everyone’s problem and we are very clear that we have to stand together if we are to overcome it.
“The progression and response to the virus unfolds on a daily basis so we do not have a confirmed domestic or international calendar for the rest of 2020, but we have made plans for every eventuality.
“Returning to play as soon as possible is critical for the industry and until we know what that date is – and if it is sustainable in the face of the crisis – we cannot accurately understand the impacts.
“However, we have taken a realistic approach to the potential damage and have formulated a plan that will mitigate the immediate damage and provide the basis for an on-going response.”
Once approved the plan would be made public, said Roux.
“These are dark times but we are united in our approach and determined that together we will get through this.”
The grouping urged the rugby community to strictly observe the lockdown directives of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Timeline: COVID-19 and South African Rugby
• 11 March: COVID-19 Management Committee meets for the first time
• 12 March: Guinness PRO14 season is suspended indefinitely
• 13 March: World Rugby cancels the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series tournament, that was due to be played in Stellenbosch on 28 and 29 March
• 13 March: SA Rugby cancels Junior Springbok home and away internationals in April and May
• 14 March: SANZAAR suspends Vodacom Super Rugby for the foreseeable future
• 16 March: SA Rugby suspends all national team training camps and business travel and orders cost savings; postpones kick off of SuperSport Rugby Challenge with a view to return to play on 25 April
• 16 March: SA Rugby announces actions and issues guidelines on safe practices to all rugby bodies
• 18 March: SA Rugby announces suspension of all rugby until the end of April and that discussions are underway to reschedule competitions to exclude international travel and be played behind closed doors.
• 20 March: World Rugby cancels the Junior World Championship scheduled for Italy in June
• 23 March: President Cyril Ramaphosa announces nationwide lockdown to start from midnight on 26 March
• 24 March: IOC postpones the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021
• 27 March: SA Rugby, MyPlayers (players’ organisation), the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO) and Sports Employees’ Unite (SEU) confirm establishment of a joint working group to manage the response to the crisis