26 Oct 2020
The Cheetahs should be given five log points if their match against the Lions can’t be rescheduled.
Saturday’s Super Rugby Unlocked fixture at Ellis Park was called off just hours before kick-off after a second batch of Covid-19 tests on Lions players revealed two further positive cases.
Earlier in the week, four Lions players had tested positive, which saw them and five teammates with whom they had been in contact, quarantined and ruled out of the match.
While both teams were reportedly willing to play, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases opted to call it off in order 'to limit the risk of further infection in the rugby community'.
SA Rugby has said that if the fixture can’t be rescheduled, both teams will get two log points.
The Cheetahs, though, would have every right to feel aggrieved if this happened as they were able to field a team and probably would have won on Saturday (against a weakened Lions team) had the game gone ahead.
First prize, obviously, is to reschedule the match – the integrity of a seven-team, one-round tournament depends on it – and hopefully this will happen.
However, if it's not possible, for whatever reasons, then SA Rugby should follow Premiership Rugby’s example.
If an English Premiership club couldn't field a team because their players had tested positive for Covid-19 and/or been exposed to those who had, the opposition was awarded a 20-0 bonus-point win.
This happened twice in the recently-concluded Covid-hit season, with the Northampton Saints having to forfeit their game against Gloucester and the Sale Sharks theirs against the Worcester Warriors. The latter forfeit came in the final round of league matches and almost certainly cost Sale a place in the semi-finals.
It didn’t happen, but if a Premiership match had been called off because of a local lockdown that wasn’t the club’s responsibility, the teams would have got two log points each.
While not ideal, these regulations were the fairest way to deal with a difficult situation.
SA Rugby should adopt them too, and award the Cheetahs a bonus-point win if Saturday's match can't be rescheduled.
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images