SA URC teams sigh at extension of national state of disaster

SA URC teams sigh at extension of national state of disaster

Rugby chief executives continue to be frustrated by the restrictions imposed on their operations through government’s extension of the national state of disaster.

It had been hoped the national state of disaster would be suspended and effective from Tuesday after its previous extension in February. Instead the national state of disaster has been extended until April 15, which means sports gatherings continue to be limited to 2,000 attendees.

The measures will continue to wreak havoc with sports federations’ bottom lines, and two rugby CEOs expressed their frustration at operating with one arm behind their back.

“How long is a piece of string?” asked Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone rhetorically when quizzed about the negative impact on their business.

“Every week we miss with no or few fans back, other than the limited 2,000. We lose money.”

The local industry will feel it acutely over the coming weeks with SA’s United Rugby Championship (URC) teams involved in a string of home matches.

“We have a busy time until mid-April when they review it again. Hopefully there is another review that is going on outside the national state of disaster.

“We would have a good crowd in last Saturday for the Munster game at Loftus Versfeld with a 4pm kickoff. You can imagine the loss we made there. There’s plenty of rugby to come that will worsen those losses.

“You have to look at your bigger picture with your suite holders coming in. You can then start invoicing them.”

Rathbone explained how teams’ major expenses on match day, such as security and cleaning, even with a limited crowd, further drain their funds. The Bulls CEO finds it hard to follow the rationale for the extension.

“You see festivals, like music festivals, going on. We’re allowed to have a pre-match party at Loftus Park where people can drink and enjoy themselves but as soon as they come through the gates you can’t. It is quite strange.”

Sharks CEO Ed Coetzee has been long frustrated by the restrictions on the industry.

“It’s not ideal,” said Coetzee of the extension.

“It’s very disappointing that we are not being heard and considered.”

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