South African high schools keen to keep the door open for rugby to return in 2021, but is it realistic?
As things stand, the SA Schools Rugby Association (SASRA) has said no rugby matches will be permitted until after 08 April 2021.
This pretty much means no first term matches and no Easter Easter Rugby Festivals in 2021. These events either have to be put postponed or cancelled.
There is a line from one of my all-time favourite songs by a Californian band that go like this: “caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow…”
An undertow is current below the surface which is working in a different direction to the surface water (wave). In the context of the song, I interpret it a pressure taking the person to a place he does not want to be and is not comfortable in.
The cup half full is that schools just want to remain optimistic but in my mind the message regarding school rugby returning in 2021 seems to play towards a worrying theme of who actual controls the rugby decision in the school system.
Due to the far-reaching power and financial influence of school rugby, will the headmasters and school governing bodies still be in a position to make rational decisions in relation to the severity of Corona or will they increasingly becoming puppets on a string, answerable to external interest groups who are able to hold them to ransom. Bear in mind that members of SASRA are school officials themselves.
Over the past decade this external power has been growing. It hasn’t been all bad though, but left to its own devices it has the potential to challenge the value system that good schools are expected to promote. It has huge influence in some circles.
Certainly the evidence on the ground suggests that the battle against Covid is being lost on all fronts in South Africa at the moment and that even with the hopes of a massive roll out of vaccines and possible loosening of regulations surrounding Ivermectin, 08 April is an ambitious date to suggest there will be the sort of resounding turning point in the fight to get back to normalcy.
If Covid has taught people anything, its that sacrifices have to be made and that the proverb about weakest link defines the level of success in trying to manage its spread. Rugby being a sport of contact goes against a fundamental rule of social distancing and therefore is that weak link. The sport should rank bottom of each and every school’s list of things to be reinstated.
In the meantime, I like many others miss it much and I pray for those whose livelihoods have been impacted adversely by its suspension. A heap of praise to those schools that have been able to carry or assist external coaches and other officials who depend on schoolboy rugby as a vital source of income during these trying times. May that loyalty be reciprocated.