Rugby Africa has announced that the start of its 2020 season including tournaments and activities, in general, has been put on hold.
The Men’s and Women’s Rugby Africa Cup which is the next scheduled event to kick off on May 30 is postponed. On 30 May, Kenya Simbas were to play Morocco while Lionesses were set to take on Madagascar.
The Executive Committee has taken this decision based on the recommendations from the Medical Committee and in consultation with World Rugby. The decision will be reviewed in a month’s time at the next Executive Committee Meeting.
Last week Rugby Africa postponed the season’s kick-off tournament, the U20 Barthés Trophy which was supposed to start on 19 April 2020. Rugby Africa had already taken extensive precautions for its staff in the past week by banning international travel
Rugby Africa President Khaled Babbou stated: “In light of the on-going Coronavirus epidemic the health of players, fans, officials, staff and volunteers are our top priority. This is an unprecedented and uncertain situation which is evolving fast. Therefore, we will put our calendar on hold until we have a clearer overview of the situation in Africa. We see it as our responsibility as a governing sport body to show good citizenship and lead by example to undertake any necessary steps to support the health guidelines and authorities. All of our daily lives are affected by drastic changes, but we must act responsibly and civically, and each of us at our own level must do our part to eradicate the spread of this virus.”
Across the continent several African governments have different restrictions in place regarding travelling, hosting of international events and participating at events abroad. The different member rugby unions have each taken measures in accordance with their government guidelines.
Rugby Africa is discussing the necessary revision of the 2020 calendar with the participating unions and continues to monitor the situation in close collaboration with all stakeholders. Among the measures are weekly updates by its Medical Committee and union presidents are requested to send any relevant updates from their health and sports ministries. The next Executive Committee Meeting will be held on 25 April where the situation will be reassessed and further measures decided.
Khaled Babbou further said that public health comes first: “Our pro-active decisions have been taken to protect the entire rugby family in Africa, the players, the staff, the supporters and anyone involved and passionate about rugby. We are a strong organisation with a healthy and good structure and I personally wish to thank all our members for their close collaboration and unity. We have an operational continuity plan and Rugby Africa is ready to pick up its tournament schedule as soon as the situation allows. We are excited to work on the launch of our season and new plans while we pause for solidarity.”