SA Rugby season to start with 'preparation series' this month

12 February 2021 - 14:25 By mahlatse mphahlele
Sanele Nohamba of the Sharks passes the ball during a hard-fought tie against the Blue Bulls.
Sanele Nohamba of the Sharks passes the ball during a hard-fought tie against the Blue Bulls.
Image: Gallo Images

SA Rugby has announced an eight-team “preparation series” to precede and have teams ready for the start of 2021 season.

The series commences on February 27‚ and is aimed at helping players and match officials get their fitness up to speed.

The preparation fixtures for the eight provincial teams are part of planning for the looming Rainbow Cup and the Springboks’ forthcoming Test season‚ which starts with the series against the British & Irish Lions.

The preparation series has been specifically designed by the rugby department of SA Rugby and allows the competing unions to meet the high performance needs of the teams in light of the coronavirus pandemic‚ and prepares them for the coming season.

“It’s imperative that we get the new season under way as soon as possible as we have a big year ahead‚ with preparing our players for the British & Irish Lions a top priority‚” said director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

“But also providing opportunities for all teams to get match fit with an eye on entry into European competitions and our planned local season. These matches will provide our top players further opportunities to test themselves against the best in SA‚ while our match officials will also get some valuable game time under the belt.”

The EP Elephants will join the seven sides that competed in Super Rugby Unlocked and the Carling Currie Cup and the teams will be split into two groups‚ where they will play cross-pool matches between February 27 and March 27.

Teams will play on a 10-day cycle rather than each week to manage Covid-19 testing protocols.

Pool A will consist of the Bulls‚ Lions‚ Griquas and Cheetahs and Pool B will be made up of the Sharks‚ Stormers‚ Pumas and Eastern Province Elephants.

Venues and kickoff times are yet to be confirmed but the four matches in the opening round will see the Bulls host the EP Elephants‚ the Lions take on the Pumas‚ the Sharks squaring off with the Griquas and Stormers taking on the Cheetahs.

Preparation series full fixtures:

Saturday‚ February 27: Bulls v EP Elephants‚ Lions v Pumas

Sunday‚ February 28: Sharks v Griquas‚ Stormers v Cheetahs

Tuesday‚ March 9: Cheetahs v Sharks‚ Griquas v Stormers

Wednesday‚ March 10: Pumas v Bulls‚ EP Elephants v Lions

Friday‚ March 19: Bulls v Stormers‚ Lions v Sharks

Saturday‚ March 20: Pumas v Cheetahs‚ EP Elephants v Griquas

Saturday‚ March 27: Cheetahs v EP Elephants‚ Griquas v Pumas‚ Sharks v Bulls‚ Stormers v Lions