SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said on Friday that while the cancellation of the World Rugby U20 Championship and the Junior Springboks’ warm-up matches was disappointing, these steps were necessary to assist in countering the COVID-19 pandemic.
World Rugby – following consultation with Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) – announced on Friday that the World Rugby U20 Championship, which was set to be hosted in Verona, Viadana, Calvisano and Parma in Italy from 28 June to 18 July, was called off with the wellbeing of the global rugby family at heart.
This followed an announcement by SA Rugby last week that an international series featuring the Under-20 teams of Georgia and Argentina as well as the Junior Boks, which was set to take place in South Africa in April, has been cancelled as well as a planned tour by the team to the United Kingdom in May.
“It is obviously very disappointing for Chean Roux, his players and the team management, but these drastic steps are vital to ensure the safety of the players, team management and match officials,” said Roux.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, and as world citizens, it is important that we all take the necessary measures to try to contain this pandemic.
“I would like to thank the players, coaches and management for all their hard work in the last few months, and encourage them to keep on putting in the hard yards albeit outside of a team set-up given the current need for social distancing.”
Roux added, “We will continue to monitor the situation and start planning possible scenarios with the Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and his department regarding the way forward for the Junior Springboks and the Under-19 High-Performance squad for the rest of the season.”
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux said: “Yes, we are disappointed but everyone understands the situation and we’ll do whatever is needed to play our part in curbing this pandemic. Working with the players over the last few months, I’ve realised yet again what immense talent we have at our disposal at the junior level, and I believe that many of these players have bright futures ahead.”