A maximum of 2 000 spectators will be permitted entry to rugby venues following the gazetting of new regulations by Mr Nathi Mthethwa, although this does not extend to school rugby matches, which fall under the auspices of the Department of Basic Education.

SA Rugby will provide guidelines to assist with the management and implementation of the entry protocols to ensure the safe return of fans as SA Rugby pledged itself to support the Government’s vaccination drive.

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said that the governing body was in full support of Government’s drive to accelerate mass vaccinations thereby allowing society to return to normality while ensuring that rugby was not the cause of the further spreading of the virus.

“This is very welcome news and the first step to returning to having the freedom to sell out venues on special occasions once again,” said Roux.

“It is 19 months since a fan was last allowed in a rugby stadium and this is the light at the end of the tunnel that our sport has desperately needed.

“We trust that this initial allowance will increase speedily as the impact of the vaccination programme and the experience in other territories points to a further relaxation of restrictions.”

Provincial unions will be responsible for ensuring that the union, clubs and their affiliated bodies adhere strictly to the directions stipulated in the Government Gazette.

The first senior professional rugby event to receive crowds in South Africa since the lockdown began in March 2020 is likely to be the Carling Champion Match against Kenya on 6 November at Loftus Versfeld.