Doubts over whether or not the 2020 edition of the Rugby Championship would go ahead were allayed earlier in the week, but uncertainty remains over the reigning champions’ participation.
Sanzaar announced on Friday that the competition would take place in Australia during the November-December window.
Springboks race against time
However, it remains unclear whether the Springboks would join New Zealand, Argentina and the hosts Down Under.
Domestic competition in South Africa is expected to only kick off in October, giving the world champions just weeks to prepare to defend their title against the southern hemisphere’s elite.
Former Bok winger Breyton Paulse, who was part of the 2004 Tri-Nations winning side, says he doubts the men in green will jet off to Australia at the end of the year.
Speaking to New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB, the 64-Test veteran said there isn’t enough time for the players to prepare themselves physically and mentally.
“I can tell you now, South Africa at the moment things are really quiet, and I’ve got a feeling that, unfortunately, I don’t think South Africa is not going to take part in that,” he said. “That’s my opinion, but in South Africa, at the moment it doesn’t look like they’re going to play.
“The boys are not really fit enough. They obviously will need a couple of weeks, and they will probably have two or three weeks to get ready for that tournament. It will be high intensity, and it’s just the nature of the beast.
“Things are a little bit messy at the moment from a South African perspective, so I don’t think it sits well with them at the moment. So, while nothing has been confirmed, in my opinion, I don’t think the Boks will take part in that competition, unfortunately.”
Rugby Championship title-defence hangs in the balance
All rugby was suspended in South Africa in March in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
In the wake of the announcement by Sanzaar, SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said he hoped some hurdles could be cleared before the Rugby Championship starts.
“We are very eager to see the Springboks return to play but there are still some hurdles to clear and we will be addressing those in the coming weeks.”
The Springboks have not taken to the field since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan in November.