The announcement that there will be no club rugby in South Africa in 2020 has not only come as a big blow to aspiring rugby players out there, but also passionate fans of the sport all over the Western Cape.
For a number of people in our local communities, club rugby on a Saturday is a chance to escape the pressures of everyday life.
It’s a chance to hook up with like-minded people who support the same cause - wanting their local team to give them something to be excited about until next weekend.
Club rugby is more than just a game, it’s a central point where communities band together.
And with the coronavirus lockdown having isolated us for so long, a club match or two would have been a welcome social and mental relief for a lot of people out there.
Still, we understand safety comes first and it is for the better that we keep social events to a minimum for now and the foreseeable future.
But for the big club fans out there, I feel your pain.
On to the players.
And if this decision is a bitter pil to sluk for fans, it is doubly so for players.
I know of club players who have worked extremely hard to maintain their conditioning during lockdown.
The announcement that all their hard work was for nothing will undoubtedly be a big mental blow to a number of players and I just hope we don’t lose some of our more talented club stars because of this cancellation.
Spare a thought for the Currie Cup First Division teams who will also not be playing rugby this year.
Our neighbours, Boland, will have absolutely no rugby this year - not club rugby nor provincial games.
For professional players, it means a full year without work.
And this is where it starts to get tricky for the guys at the top.
With only eight professional teams set to play rugby this year, plus their U21s, I foresee a serious problem in 2021.
Traditionally rich in rugby talent, the game in South Africa will face its biggest survival challenge next season.
Remember, the biggest tournament in schoolboy rugby, the Craven Week, was also cancelled for the year.
That means your schools’ feeder system, your club system and your First Division system have all had the plug pulled on them.
And with professional unions only allowed to contract up to 45 players for the year, I find it tough to see where they will find the ready-made talent that will be on par when injuries do happen.
South African rugby needed this season. It would have been a season where club players possibly would have gotten more of a look-in if injuries struck.
Instead, they are now disheartened, with niks to look forward to.
All-in-all, South African rugby is facing a challenge it has never faced before and I reckon 2021 will be a seriously tough year for all involved in the sport.
Here’s to hoping we somehow find a way to recover quickly.