Marius van Rensburg, experienced team manager of the Phakisa Pumas, said there was much excitement at the Lowveld union this week when players started returning to Mbombela Stadium after a long absence due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It was great to see each other again – rugby is a team sport after all and the players missed their team-mates,” said Van Rensburg.

“We’ve spent the last two weeks preparing our facilities and ensuring all protocols are in place, while also testing all our players and personnel, and on Monday we started with non-contact training according to the guidelines put in place.

“We are and will be training in groups of five while we await more news from SA Rugby and Government regarding the next steps, but for now it’s great to be back together.”

Van Rensburg said the Pumas realise the seriousness of the pandemic and the players and personnel are all playing their part in ensuring all regulations are being met.

“This doesn’t apply only when we’re at the stadium – the players know their behaviour elsewhere can impact others and are following all the protocols,” he said.

“We want to ensure we’re doing what we can to return to the playing field later this year as we know our fans here in Nelspruit – and all rugby supporters across the country – are keen to see the players back on the field, although we realise this will take time.

“For now, our training fields and gymnasium have been cordoned off for training, our groups are in place and the players will do mostly fitness and ball skills in the coming days.

“We are looking forward to the rest of the season, and hope to see our talented players on the field sooner rather than later.”