The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN schoolboy rugby players will this year have nothing to look forward to once again after South African Rugby cancelled this year’s SA Rugby Youth Week tournaments in light of the current challenges and uncertainties regarding the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa.
For years, Zimbabwe sent its schoolboys to compete against their South African and Namibian counterparts at the Under-13 Craven Week, Under-16 Grant Khomo Week and Under-18 Craven Week. Zimbabwean girls also joined in a few years ago.
Jurie Roux, the SA Rugby chief executive officer said that none of the national schools tournaments, for U13, U16, U18, Academy Week and LSEN teams for boys, as well as the U16 and U18 national weeks for girls, will not take place this year.
“This decision, while very unfortunate as we really love to see our best age-group players in action, follows careful consideration of our learnings during the last few months, during which SA Rugby delivered a number of international tournaments and competitions during a local pandemic,” said Roux.
He said the decision to suspend Youth Weeks for 2021 also follows feedback from the provincial unions, who have experience on the ground of delivering Covid-19 rugby matches.
The South African Schools Rugby Association (SASRA) endorsed the decision to cancel this year’s Youth Weeks.
“While it’s bitterly disappointing that the Youth Weeks had to be cancelled again this year, the bigger picture is the welfare of our players and other factors that we can’t disregard, including academics. We are approaching the year-end exams, which are very important, especially for our matric learners,” said Noël Ingle, the chairman of SASRA.
It is the second year in a row that the SA Youth Weeks have been cancelled after they were scrapped in 2020, again due to the Covid-19 pandemic.