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SA Rugby, Safa and CSA welcome return to action under level 3

Professional sport in South Africa has been suspended since March with the Super Rugby and PSL seasons among the worst affected leagues as a result.

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JOHANNESBURG - SA Rugby, the South African Football Association (Safa) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have all welcomed the announcement by Minister for Sports, Art and Culture Nathi Mthethwa that contact and non-contact sport can resume training under level 3 of the lockdown.

Mthethwa made the announcement on Saturday as the country prepares to move from level 4 to level 3 on June 1.

Mthethwa stressed however that contact sports, such as football and rugby would be limited to a return to training while non-contact sports can return to training and begin to stage matches behind closed doors.

Professional sport in South Africa had been suspended since March with the Super Rugby and PSL seasons among the worst affected leagues as a result.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said that “this is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return-to-play”.

Roux added that the federation is in a position to begin the necessary testing and implement the appropriate protocols.

“We submitted a comprehensive, staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately. We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training. But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play”, he said.

Safa Acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe said that the clarity was “helpful” as Safa and the National Soccer League (NSL) were set to meet on Monday to discuss the way forward for football in the country.

Safa added that it was encouraged by the minister’s continued engagement with different sporting federations.

“Safa welcomes such continued engagements, mindful of the negative financial impact COVID-19 has had on sport in general. Football, rugby and cricket are amongst the major sporting codes that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic,” said Motlanthe.

Cricket, as a non-contact sport, would be the only one of these three codes allowed to resume training and staging of matches under level 3 lockdown regulations.

CSA Acting Chief Executive Dr. Jacques Faul said "This is a big boost for the operational side of our cricket. At this stage, these regulations apply only to professional cricket and our next step will be to draw up a protocol covering the return to training and playing and submit it to SRSA for approval. I will immediately be calling a meeting of our COVID steering committee on Monday to get this process under way. Both our national teams and our franchises will in due time be given the green light to return to training", he said.