The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent tightening of regulations placed on travel and quarantine by various state and national governments due to the latest outbreaks of COVID-19 in Australia and New Zealand has forced a drastic change in the Rugby Champs match schedule, which will now see the remaining four rounds of the competition playing out in Australia – specifically in Queensland – in Brisbane, Townsville and on the Gold Coast.
This will be great news for the many South African expats who live in Queensland… and are diehard Springbok fans! Spectators will be allowed to attend the matches… and the new schedule will see each round feature a double-header of matches between the four participating teams at the same venue!
The Springboks will kick off the away leg of their campaign against Australia on Sunday, 12 September, at the CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, which will be followed by another match-up between the teams at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, 18 September.
These fixtures will be followed by back-to-back matches against New Zealand on Saturday, 25 September at QLD Country Bank Stadium in Townsville and Saturday, 2 October, at the CBUS Super Stadium in Gold Coast.
The matches were initially scheduled to be hosted in Sydney, Brisbane, Dunedin and Auckland respectively.
“We are pleased that the Castle Lager Rugby Championship match schedule has been finalised and we are looking forward to continuing our campaign in Australia,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
Following Lockdowns in New Zealand and parts of Australia, South Africa had announced it would be prepared to host the remainder of the Rugby Champs if need be. Fortunately for Queenslanders, this solution has instead been arranged.
“We can now continue our planning to ensure that the players are ready for the next four matches from a physical and mental point of view, and we are excited about facing our old foes Australia and New Zealand again after kicking off the tournament well against Argentina,” said Nienaber.
The Springboks and Pumas will travel to Australia together on Thursday afternoon, and both teams will be placed in quarantine for two weeks before taking the field, after which they will then operate normally in Australia with no restrictions being placed on their movements.
Despite being in quarantine, the Boks will be allowed to train as they have been in South Africa since the start of the Castle Lager Lions Series.
“The two-week quarantine period means we will be on tour for just under six weeks, but we are looking forward to experiencing normal life after a year-and-a-half of living under several forms of adjusted COVID-19 restrictions in South Africa,” said Nienaber.
“This will certainly assist in ensuring that the players are fresh mentally when they take the field, which is essential for them to peak in form.”
The Springboks had Monday and Tuesday off to rest and recover from the physically and mentally taxing schedule in the last two months, which saw them take on Georgia, the British & Irish Lions and play two matches against Argentina.
Updated Castle Lager Rugby Championship schedule:
Round 1 – Saturday, 14 August
New Zealand 57 Australia 22 (Eden Park, Auckland)
Springboks 32 Argentina 12 (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Nelson Mandela Bay)
Round 2 – Saturday, 21 August
Argentina 10 Springboks 29 (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Nelson Mandela Bay)
TBC: Australia v New Zealand (Optus Stadium, Perth) **
Round 3 – Sunday, 12 September (CBUS Super Stadium, Gold Coast)
New Zealand v Argentina
Springboks v Australia
Round 4 – Saturday, 18 September (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)
Argentina v New Zealand
Australia v Springboks
Round 5 – Saturday, 25 September (QLD Country Bank Stadium, Townsville)
New Zealand v Springboks
Australia v Argentina
Round 6 – Saturday, 2 October (CBUS Super Stadium, Gold Coast)
Springboks v New Zealand
Argentina v Australia
* All kick-off times and match order to be confirmed
** Third Bledisloe Cup match – date to be confirmed