South African Rugby has confirmed it has offered to host the remainder of the Rugby Championship, pending government approval, as competition organisers scramble to find new venues for cancelled matches in Australasia.
Reports on Friday suggested the competition could be shifted to the northern hemisphere after New Zealand pulled out of hosting two games against South Africa, also confirming they will not play their next fixture against Australia that was scheduled for Perth on August 28.
This is due to a tightening of government regulations on travel and quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have advised SANZAAR that we are ready and able to host the remainder of the competition in South Africa, pending our government’s approval,” SA Rugby chief executive officer Jurie Roux said in a statement on Friday.
“We are now well-versed in turning on rugby Tests within the prevailing COVID restrictions and have the venues and accommodation necessary. We just need the go-ahead.”
The New Zealand government extended a nationwide lockdown on Friday as new COVID-19 infections were discovered in the capital Wellington and case numbers jumped to 31.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said authorities had advised that the Springboks would not be permitted to enter New Zealand for Tests in Dunedin on September 25 and Auckland on October 2, and confirmed they would not travel for next weekend’s Test, much to the annoyance of Rugby Australia.
South Africa recently hosted the British & Irish Lions for an eight-match tour, including three Tests, that was not without incident as both teams had players and staff test positive for the virus.
The Springboks are currently hosting Argentina in the opening two matches of their Rugby Championship campaign, with the second of those fixtures on Saturday.
The teams were then due to share a chartered flight to Australia to start that leg of the competition, but for the moment it is destination unknown.
“SANZAAR is considering a range of options – including the hosting of the event in South Africa – and will make an announcement once all logistical, commercial and broadcasting considerations have been taken into account,” the SA Rugby statement added.