File: SANZAAR was set up in 1996 to manage the Super Rugby club competition and the Test tournament now known as the Rugby Championship. Pixabay/hirobi
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa Rugby announced it will hold a Springbok trial match on 3 October without foreign-based players after a televised draft system ahead of the Rugby Championship later this year.
The Rugby World Cup winners will organise the fixture between director of rugby Rassie Erasmus's 'Springbok Green' and coach Jacques Nienaber's 'Springbok Gold' at Cape Town's Newlands.
The pair will take it in turns to select squads of 25 players from an enlarged list of 60 on a live broadcast next week but individuals such as Toulouse's Cheslin Kolbe and Rynhardt Elstadt will be unavailable.
"This will not only be an opportunity to see the best of the best available talent in South Africa square off against each other in what promises to be something never seen before, but it will also provide the players with another valuable opportunity to shake off the rust and get the legs and lungs going after not playing any rugby in the last six months," Erasmus said.
"It will be exciting – from the moment we select the squads, with a number of twists thrown in for good measure – through the build-up to the match and the actual encounter in Cape Town," he added.
The move echoes New Zealand's recent North-South fixture played before they named their outfit for the Rugby Championship which has been moved to November due to the coronavirus pandemic.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said he was unable to give the green light for Nienaber's side to participate in the tournament as the country continues to battle the virus outbreak.
"We're still not in a position to confirm plans for the Springboks, but it remains our wish that they play Tests this year," said Roux.
"It would not only be great to see the Rugby World Cup champions in action, but it would also give the Bok management valuable preparation for next year's tour of the British and Irish Lions," he added.
SA Rugby also announced the domestic season would start on 26 September as the Blue Bulls play the Natal Sharks and the Golden Lions face the Western Stormers at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld.
The competition will see teams play each other home and away with further details to be announced, behind closed doors, before a final on 23 January.