Rugby eyes the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day slots normally associated with cricket

03 September 2020 - 16:21 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Hacjivah Dayimani of the Emirates Lions tackled during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Durban, South Africa.
Hacjivah Dayimani of the Emirates Lions tackled during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

The Boxing Day and New Year’s Day slots‚ normally associated with cricket in the high summer months‚ could become prime rugby dates pending government approval.

In a draft document of domestic rugby fixtures seen by SowetanLive‚ the four Super Rugby franchises (Sharks‚ Stormers‚ Bulls and Lions)‚ the Cheetahs‚ the Pumas and the Griquas have been pencilled in to play matches on December 26 and January 2.

December 26 is the start of the Boxing Day Test that in South Africa has alternated between Durban‚ Port Elizabeth and Centurion since 1992.

While the New Year’s Test start date has shifted from January 2 to the following day‚ it still remains a prized and profitable Test match at Newlands in Cape Town.

Whether those cricket fixtures are able to take place this year under the travel and Covid-19 regulations is still up in the air‚ but December 26 and January 2 fall on a Saturday.

That works well for rugby matches and if there’s no inbound cricket tour for whatever reason‚ SA Rugby may have hit on a gold mine‚ especially if they move north where there’s no December break.

Critically‚ in the draft fixture list a game hasn’t been scheduled in Cape Town on January 2 while there’s no Durban fixture on December 26.

According to the draft list‚ a game has been pencilled for Pretoria on December 26. SuperSport Park in Centurion has hosted the two most recent Boxing Day Tests with a fair degree of success while Durban’s most recent Boxing Day Test was in 2015.

While SA Rugby has given the various franchises the green light to return‚ speculation has been rife with regards to the start date of the tournament.

When approached for comment‚ an SA Rugby spokesperson said they have not yet announced the fixtures.

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