Thursday, 15 October 2020 21:47

 

Photo Credit:Reuters.

South Africa has withdrawn from the Rugby Championship to cut the number of tournament matches in half.

The South African rugby body said it has "noted"media reports that the Springboks will withdraw from the Rugby Championship and has made no move to deny it, with an official announcement expected tomorrow.

Tournament organiser Sanzaar and hosts Rugby Australia are expected to confirm the withdrawal of the world champion Springboks on Friday, which will reduce the competition from a 12 to six-test event and necessitate the need for bye weekends.

SA Rugby would not comment on the reports, it said on Thursday, until Rugby Championship organizer SANZAAR "had updated all stakeholders through official channels."

Sanzaar on Wednesday gave South Africa Rugby an additional 48 hours to reach a final verdict on the Springboks' participation after last-ditch attempts were made for the Boks to arrive in Australia three weeks later than originally planned.

In the end, despite having three to five matches prior to their tests in Australia, South Africa did not believe the Springboks had sufficient time to physically prepare for the tournament.

South Africa's decision to withdraw entirely is expected to be attributed to player welfare concerns and uncertainty surrounding government travel regulations amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, though the latter is believed to have been progressing positively.

The Springboks were allowed to return to full-contact training only last month because of government regulations to curb the spread of the coronavirus. At one point, South Africa had the fifth highest virus caseload in the world and has nearly 700,000 confirmed cases.

The Springboks will now not travel to Australia to join the All Blacks, Wallabies and Pumas for the scheduled four nations event due to be hosted in Sydney and Brisbane from October 31 to December 5.

Without the Springboks, the All Blacks are scheduled to meet the Wallabies in Sydney and Brisbane on October 31 and November 7 following Sunday's Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park.