Rugby finally returns

After an unprecedented six month break in the season, fans are to be treated to the return of local rugby when the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls meet on 26 September at Loftus in Pretoria.

The double-header, also featuring the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers, will see the four South African Vodacom Super Rugby sides playing their first matches since March in what has been dubbed Vodacom Super Fan Saturday.

The following weekend sees the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown in Cape Town pitting a Springbok Green against a Springbok Gold team on Saturday 3 October, featuring players from within a 60 man strong squad of Springbok hopefuls.

The 10th of October sees the resumption of competition time with seven franchises taking on each other on a home and away basis, culminating in a historic first, with the semi-finals played in the new year, on 16 January and the final a week later.

Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt admitted to a sense of excitement at the opportunity to start playing again and some form of concrete plan going forward after all the uncertainty of the last six months as the country rode the wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s exciting to get back into our normal rugby routine, although we are sticking to strict health protocols and the players understand that responsibility so that we can avoid a crisis,” he explained.

“We’re looking forward to getting onto the field and the players realise that there is rugby happening very soon and their willingness to learn on the field has stepped up. So too the intensity in training with regards to contact.

“We’re back into full swing of things and the guys are excited and motivated to do well for The Sharks again.”

In the past, the teams fielded in the Vodacom Super Rugby and Currie Cup competitions have often been completely different, with a host of players unavailable in the latter stages of the year due to Springbok or other commitments. With the squad almost entirely intact from that which led Super Rugby at the time of its premature halt, this can only bode well for the Cell C Sharks in the foreseeable future.

“Post Vodacom Super Rugby we identified that there was quite a lot to work on the existing model that we had after seven matches, so we hope that since then, we would have improved in those areas,” Everitt pointed out.

“A lot of work has taken place, although we would like to keep on the same path. We want to improve each week, we are in a growth curve – although we did well in Super Rugby – we will never be satisfied until we play that perfect game.”