CJ Velleman’s presence is key for EP. (Gallo Images)
- A logistical oversight means the meeting between the EP Elephants and Griquas in the preparation series will now be played on Wednesday evening.
- Originally slated for Saturday, the match clashes with a PSL fixture between Chippa and Swallows at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
- It does mean, however, both teams can’t take advantage of the 10-day cycle between matches, which has been granted to teams for training purposes.
A logistical oversight means that the preparation series encounter between the Eastern Province Elephants and Griquas will now have to be played on Wednesday evening.
SA Rugby had penned the fixture in for Saturday, only to be informed last week that the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has already been booked for Chippa United’s PSL fixture against Moroka Swallows.
“Yeah, we’ll be going down earlier to Gqeberha for the game,” Griquas chief, Arni van Rooyen, confirmed to Sport24.
“The soccer was scheduled first. So we’ve had to adapt. It is what it is.”
However, the fixture clash undermines SA Rugby’s recently implemented strategy of having 10-day cycles between matches, that allow teams to have normalised training schedules.
Currently, coaches can now comfortably accommodate four to five days’ rugby sessions while still doing mandatory Covid-19 testing.
Yet that won’t be the case for these two teams.
Griquas, who gained much plaudits for the stirring second-half performance they produced, narrowly lost 38-32 to the Stormers in Kimberley last Tuesday.
It means they barely had a week to prepare.
“It’s obviously disruptive. I don’t think the players and coaches quite anticipated this, but it’s not something they aren’t used to given last season,” said Van Rooyen.
Peter de Villiers’ Elephants will feel even more chastened.
Their early growing pains have been stark over the past three weeks.
An 87-10 loss to a second-string Bulls side illustrated the gulf in class between the unions and, while they were appreciably better last Wednesday against the Lions, their discipline let them down and also saw prop Siya Nzuzo being stretchered off after the EP scrum creaked under pressure.
Various other players are also struggling with niggles as a squad of mostly promising upstarts to the professional game adapt to the rigours of this level.
De Villiers surely would’ve hoped for a bit more time to prepare.
Kick-off is at 19:00.