Tue, 19 Jan 2021

Western Province coach John Dobson believes the points allocation system for games called off due to Covid-19 should be relooked.

The recently completed Super Rugby Unlocked event was tarnished somewhat with three matches (Lions v Cheetahs, Lions v Pumas and Stormers v Sharks) called off due to Covid-19 protocols.

Teams were awarded two points apiece after the matches were recorded as 0-0 draws.

The Stormers and Sharks saw their final round-robin match called off after a coronavirus outbreak in the Durbanites' camp. It was a potentially important game as it would have been a title decider had the Bulls slipped up in their final game against the Pumas.

While addressing reporters in a virtual media briefing on Tuesday, Dobson admitted that the potential of more cancelled games in the upcoming Currie Cup was a concern.

"The Bulls thoroughly deserved Super Rugby Unlocked. They gave their two closest rivals - us and the Sharks - a smack at Loftus. But we were desperately disappointed not to play last week. It was important for us, we were heading in the right direction, we wanted to maintain momentum and give more guys rugby.

"You want to play every week and get better, especially after what we went through at Loftus (losing 39-6 to the Bulls). We were really sad and it was disruptive for us not to play and obviously, you lose an opportunity at those points," Dobson said.

The coach added that they were maintaining strict protocols to prevent a possible Covid-19 outbreak.

"I assume other unions are, but we are very, very strict on our guys here. We basically signed off on an agreement that we are on 'level four' (lockdown) which basically means no socialising, home and shop as much as we can. Obviously there are some things you can't control.

"We've had 11 weeks of Covid negatives in the senior squad, so I think the chaps are generally behaving. But we know that can change very quickly - freakishly and faultlessly.

"It would become problematic in the Currie Cup. There were two teams that didn't lose points because of Covid - the Bulls and Griquas - in Super Rugby Unlocked. It would affect the integrity of the competition, not through anybody's fault assuming everybody follows best practice.

"SA Rugby deserve a lot of credit for getting these competitions off the ground because it may have been easier to say that it is too risky and scrap it. But that would be really bad for the industry and the psyche."

But Dobson stressed he would like to see a review of how points are allocated.

"I would personally like a review of the points allocation system. That's my personal view. The two points shared and the draw is fair because we mustn't have a situation where we're saying it's your fault. But if one team can fulfil a fixture and the other team can't it's quite tough.

"For example, we could well have five Covid cases next week and they're all in the front row and we couldn't field a team to go to Ellis Park. Then the Lions would have lost a home game and potentially lost another three points. It's nobody's fault, but you would find that our behaviours would get even better and would be better in the communities even. You just want to take no chance at losing points.

"I've made a joke before where [I said] a draw at Ellis Park or Bloemfontein is actually okay, but if we go that route then the integrity of the competition is gone."

Dobson added that he felt there would be better behaviour from teams if they ran the risk of losing full match points.

"That's all I mean. It's not a fault thing. That's the only thing we need to debate. The Nations Cup is going that route and the Premiership went that route with the 20-0 scores. But I also understand why it's a draw because you don't want to say it's a fault thing."

When probed whether he favoured the Nations Cup's rule where a team not at fault for a cancelled game receives a 28-0 bonus-point win, Dobson responded: "Yes, I probably would personally and I think you'd find some of the other affected unions like the Cheetahs and the Lions may feel the same as well. Maybe the Pumas as well...

"By all accounts, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape are about to go through a tough time Covid-wise. Anything that encourages exemplary behaviour in the safety of our people - even if it's something silly like a points attribution.

"If you are playing for the Stormers and thinking of going to the Waterfront mall, but you know that you could cost your team points, maybe you won't go to the mall. That would set a good example for the community.

"I am not coming from a petty-party this-team that-team point of view. I am just thinking that there is a real crisis and the best that we can behave, the better."

Dobson's charges open their Currie Cup account against the Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 19:00.

Teams:

Western Province

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Substitutes (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Kwenzo Blose, 19 Neethling Fouche, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Chris van Zyl, 22 Jaco Coetzee, 23 Marcel Theunissen, 24 Godlen Masimla, 25 Tim Swiel, 26 Ruhan Nel

Blue Bulls

15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren

Source: News24

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