Stormers coach John Dobson. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Stormers coach John Dobson. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Stormers coach: URC holds so much potential!

Stormers coach John Dobson hopes the United Rugby Championship can still live up to its potential despite the latest disruptions.

Stormers coach John Dobson. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Stormers coach John Dobson. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Members of the Munster and Cardiff travelling group who tested positive for Covid-19 in South Africa are currently seeing out their final days of quarantine in a Cape Town hotel before being allowed to return home.

It’s been a difficult time for the touring teams, who were stranded in South Africa after rounds six and seven of the URC were postponed following the detection of the Omicron variant.

It still remains to be seen what the full knock-on effect will be for the URC competition.

READ | SHARKS COACH FULL OF PRAISE FOR RETURNING SPRINGBOKS

Just this past weekend, a pair of hastily-arranged derby matches had to be brought forward from February, with the Sharks hosting the Bulls in the URC on Friday, while the Stormers tackled the Lions on Saturday.

It’s not yet clear when the two rounds of postponed matches will be able to take place, and the South African teams are not oblivious to a sense that their northern hemisphere counterparts might be hesitant to return.

In early January, the South African teams were set to travel to the northern hemisphere for a round of fixtures, but those seem almost certain to fall by the wayside due to travel restrictions.

“I don’t want to go against the spirit of rugby, but when this new strain was detected there was misinformation about it being called a South African variant,” Stormers coach John Dobson said this week. “We can fully appreciate how tough it has been for the teams who have been left stuck in hotels, though, and there are so many sports teams who have gone through a lot during this pandemic.

“I just hope that there will be a balanced reaction to it, and not a case of pulling the plug on the whole thing, because it would be so sad. We saw when the South African teams toured the northern hemisphere that this competition has enormous potential.

Tough time for the URC says Stormers coach

“I would have loved for these two weekends of rugby to have taken place as scheduled because I think it would have provided a clearer picture of where the South African teams are. Earlier this season we went overseas to strange conditions, to places we haven’t been before, with referees we hadn’t had before, and without our internationals. They had then come down to South Africa without their Test players, but things got turned upside so quickly.

“I hope in the new year we can get back to playing the overseas teams. The idea for us to play more local derbies during the Six Nations is a really good idea because we can go full-strength with all our Springboks available, and it would be great for South African rugby. But it would also be great if we can get future travel arrangements sorted out so that we can still play visiting teams in South Africa, because I think any other construction of the competition would make it tough for the tournament to have a really good first season.”