DURBAN – Rugby Championship organisers Sanzaar yesterday gave SA Rugby an additional 48 hours (until tomorrow) to finalise their internal stakeholder discussions regarding Springbok participation, but it seems increasingly likely that the world champions will be staying at home.
The Boks are scheduled to play Argentina in Brisbane on November 7, which is nearly three weeks away, and with the Boks not having packed their bags never mind arrived in Australia to undergo 14 days of isolation, the likelihood of that fixture taking place is diminishing.
The Boks were supposed to leave for Australia on Saturday, but that clearly is not going to happen, with the decision on them going at all only taking place the day before.
According to media reports in Australia, the best case scenario for South African participation would be a late start for the world champions and a revision of the tournament fixtures.
This would allow the South African players to get a few more rounds of Super Rugby Unlocked under the belt.
SA Rugby Director Rassie Erasmus has said his chief concern about the Boks attempting to defend the Rugby Championship title they won last year is lack of preparation time and player welfare due to insufficient game time.
The fact that the Boks are even debating about going to play against teams that are way better prepared than them is obviously because of the significant financial implications. If they go, SA Rugby would receive a welcome financial injection.
No doubt also on the table is the possible damage to the Springboks’ reputation should they lose heavily to the All Blacks and Wallabies – the teams that drew a high quality Bledisloe Cup match last week – ahead of next year’s highly anticipated tour by the British and Irish Lions.