Rugby Africa announced it had canceled all its competitions in the 2020 season to protect the health of all the sport’s players and their families.
Rugby Africa said it had held regular, consultative online meetings to talk with federations and doctors concerning the health situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several competitions have been affected including the Rugby Africa Cup, which was due to kick off at the end of last month.
“The decision to cancel the competitions follows a joint agreement reached with the federations consulted on 7 and 8 May. These bodies want to be able to focus on resuming their activities in the final quarter of 2020, if possible,” the body said in a statement.
Rugby Africa said that the current bans on travel, public gatherings and sporting events across the continent meant that it was unlikely competitions will resume this year. It also noted that not all countries will lift restrictions at the same time, or in the same way, compromising some countries’ participation.
Rugby Africa added that travel costs were expected to increase significantly and potential quarantine requirements could require some players to spend much longer periods abroad.
“This is certainly one of the most difficult decisions we’ve ever had to make but it also seems to be the most reasonable option given the current circumstances,” Rugby Africa Vice President Andrew Owor said.
The body’s medical committee said that differences in evolution of COVID-19 in the continent did not give a clear picture of when it will peak in Africa and when the end is likely.
“There is still too much uncertainty what course the pandemic will take over the next few weeks to feel confident about resuming competition,” Dr. Elvis Tano, head of the RA Medical Committee, said.
Despite the cancellation, Rugby Africa stated that it was working hard to implement local-level activities and competitions by the end of the year.
“There is a consensus among the RA Executive Committee and its member federations to focus efforts on restarting local-level activities and competitions as soon as health conditions permit. The shared desire is to ensure grassroots rugby is relaunched and get national teams ready in an appropriate manner to restart continent-wide competitions in 2021 if possible,” the statement said.
Rugby Africa also said it supported cross-border matches or sub-regional tournaments organised by federations where possible in 2020.
“Rugby Africa’s medical and sports committees will of course review such initiatives first, to ensure that the health situation and government regulations permit rugby events being held.”