We were in a favourable position in that our bye and the Lions’ bye is a week from each other, so there was a gap there.
CAPE TOWN – Bulls chief executive Edgar Rathbone has hit back at those rugby fans who feel that the Pretoria side have been unfairly favoured after two of their matches were rescheduled due to Covid-19.
In fact, he says that it is vital for the integrity of the Currie Cup that their Gauteng derby against the Lions does take place, with the Bulls topping the log and the Lions six points adrift.
Following a “substantial” number of positive Covid-19 cases in Jake White’s squad, the Bulls saw their previous fixture against Griquas in Kimberley cancelled.
But subsequently, they have managed to move the Lions encounter from this Saturday to Wednesday, January 6 at Loftus Versfeld ( 7pm kick-off), as well as shifting their final league game against the Pumas from Friday, January 8 to Sunday, January 10 (4pm kick-off).
The rearranged matches has drawn the ire of Lions supporters in particular, who feel their team were unable to reschedule two Super Rugby Unlocked games against the Cheetahs and Pumas.
“In terms of the protocols, the option has always been there for teams to reschedule if a match is at risk, an agreement between two provinces. We were lucky that we reached that agreement last week already when we saw there might be a risk. We were in a favourable position in that our bye and the Lions’ bye is a week from each other, so there was a gap there,” Rathbone said during an online press conference yesterday.
“And luckily, the CEO of the Pumas, Marius (van Rensburg) and Jimmy (Stonehouse, the coach) also agreed to move our fixture against them to the Sunday (10 January).
“I think in terms of us having an unfair advantage, I don’t believe that’s there. We need to play two games in a week, and leading up to the play-offs.
For the Lions, they’ve already had two matches where they’ve had to share points, so they also need to play two games in one week.
“If you talk about the integrity of the competition, for the Currie Cup, it’s important that this match gets played. Not only this match – if the other matches could’ve been rescheduled, (then) they should’ve been. But top-of-the-table clash, Jukskei Derby, is important for the competition.”
Rathbone added that the Bulls had delayed their Covid-19 retesting from this past Monday until Sunday, December 27, and that all players and coaches were in isolation at home – they are expected back at training on Monday, December 28 if given the all clear.
He did say, though, that the break gives the players a welcome breather. “It’s obviously not ideal, but it also gives the bodies a bit of time to recover. We had a few niggling injuries that’s now got a bit of time to heal, and if we test clear on the 27th, we can start training on the 28th. That gives us a week-and-a-half to get ready for the Lions match on the sixth, so we should be OK – and fresh going into the semi-finals,” said Rathbone.