World champions South Africa have withdrawn from the 2020 Rugby Championship in Australia, prompting the return of a Tri-Nations tournament.

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) cited factors including travel restrictions, player welfare, safety concerns and the ongoing effect of the coronavirus pandemic for pulling out.

The Springboks' absence leaves Australia, New Zealand and Argentina to challenge for this year's title.

It is a blow ahead of the tournament, and means the Tri-Nations returns eight years after Argentina joined to extend the competition to a four-team event.

SARU chief executive Jurie Roux said: "SANZAAR [the competition organisers] and Rugby Australia have bent over backwards to make the tournament happen and it would have been unfair on them and their partners and state government to delay a decision any longer.

"This is a hugely disappointing outcome for supporters and commercial partners but the ongoing impacts of the pandemic in multiple dispensations mean we are unable to deliver a Springbok team without seriously compromising player welfare, apart from other logistical challenges."

With a Tri-Nations return, six international matches will be played in Australia across six consecutive weekends.

The Tri-Nations will see each nation play each other twice, with games to be held in Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle – starting on October 31 between the Wallabies and All Blacks at ANZ Stadium.

The first two matches involving Australia and New Zealand double up as the final two Bledisloe Cup matches.

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said: “COVID is just a gift that keeps on giving! Naturally, it is extremely disappointing that the Springboks, due to the continued complexities of operating in and around this COVID environment, cannot fully compete in the previously planned six-round Rugby Championship.

“That said, this now presents us with a unique opportunity, in this our 25th year, to close off 2020 with a Tri-Nations competition."

South Africa have been given a 48-hour deadline to decide whether they will compete in the Rugby Championship.

The Springboks are due to start the defence of their title against Argentina at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on November 7.

Rugby South Africa (RSA) last week said "several hurdles needed to be cleared" before the organisation can confirm that the world champions will feature in the four-nation competition.

Concerns have been raised over a lack of playing time for South Africa players due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tournament organisers SANZAAR on Wednesday stated that a decision must be made within two days.

A SANZAAR statement said: "The SANZAAR member unions have agreed to provide South Africa Rugby with an additional 48 hours to finalise its internal stakeholder discussions.

"This will now delay the scheduled departure of the Springboks from South Africa to Australia.

"SANZAAR will provide an update on the resolution of these discussions and a timetable for the Springboks participation in the Rugby Championship when available in the coming days."

New Zealand will not have to quarantine over Christmas after their second Rugby Championship meeting with Australia was brought forward.

The All Blacks were scheduled to face the Wallabies in Sydney to close out the six-week tournament, which was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, on December 12, meaning that after returning to New Zealand they would still be in a 14-day period of self-isolation on Christmas Day.

However, SANZAAR and tournament hosts Rugby Australia have rescheduled the Bledisloe Cup Test, which will now open the tournament in Sydney on October 31.

South Africa's second Test against Argentina will still be played on December 12 but has been moved from ANZ Stadium to Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium.

"This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the SANZAAR partners have had to compromise on a number of levels," said SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.

"It is important to further acknowledge the sacrifice of a number of the players and team management that will have been away from home for close to six months by the time the Rugby Championship has concluded. This is again a testament to the strong values that encompass our game.

"The 12-match Rugby Championship is now all set for kick-off. The Argentina Pumas have already arrived in Australia and we all look forward to an exciting and vibrant tournament that will undoubtedly showcase the best of southern hemisphere rugby."

Rugby Australia's interim chief executive Rob Clarke added: "I'm pleased this draw is now resolved and that the SANZAAR joint venture has reached a suitable compromise.

"Each party has had to sacrifice something, and I think that is a true indication of the strength of the SANZAAR alliance."

Rugby Australia has vowed to do "everything in its power" to find a "reasonable resolution" after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) refused to rule out boycotting the Rugby Championship.

NZR on Thursday stated it had not agreed to a schedule that is due to see the All Blacks play their last match of a six-week tournament on December 12, which would leave the players in quarantine for Christmas.

Mark Robinson, the NZR chief executive, said the fixture list broke a commitment from Rugby Australia and governing body SANZAAR for the All Blacks to play their final game of the competition on December 5 - enabling them to spend the festive period with their families.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke says there is ample time to reach an agreement over the scheduling and is confident the four-team competition will be a success.

Clarke said: "For absolute clarity - on two formal occasions - Rugby Australia was supportive of altering the draw so that the Rugby Championship could be played over five weeks.

"On both occasions, that proposal was rejected which means there was never an agreement to finish the tournament on Saturday 5 December 2020.

"That being said, no one wants players and team management to be away from their families and in quarantine over Christmas."

Clarke added: "Rugby Australia will do everything in its power to help assist New Zealand Rugby and the team in finding a reasonable resolution, and in urging them to exhaust every possible alternative.

"There are still more than two months to go before December 12 so we have plenty of time to find a solution.

"We will continue to work with New Zealand Rugby and support them however we can, just like we are doing with the Springboks and Argentina in assisting with their travel plans, as well as making their stay in Australia as safe and as comfortable as possible during the tournament.

"There have been a number of sacrifices made by each of the SANZAAR joint venture partners to get this far and I want to thank all of them for their flexibility and adaptability.

"There is obviously a lot to achieve in the coming months but I'm confident that under the leadership of each of the joint venture partners, that the 2020 Rugby Championship in Australia will be a great success."

New Zealand hosting the Rugby Championship this year is close to getting the green light, according to SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.

The annual competition was initially due to get under way on August 8 and see the six rounds of home and away fixtures contested over the space of eight weeks, but the coronavirus pandemic caused it to be pushed back.

November 7 has now been slated as the start date for a six-week Rugby Championship hosted entirely in New Zealand, which Marinos revealed is near to being confirmed.

"I feel as if we're close. If numbers and infections [in New Zealand] remain at this level or start improving, then we're very optimistic," Marinos told Stuff.

"But one can't ignore the fact of what we saw in New Zealand a few weeks ago, when there was an outbreak out of nowhere and swift reaction that was taken in order to contain it.

"There is always that element of unpredictability, but my philosophy throughout this whole pandemic is you've got to control the controllables, and make sure we're doing everything we can so that when the green light is given we can turn things on.”

He added: "We certainly remain very optimistic and positive to get the Rugby Championship underway.

"We're doing everything we can within our confines, and certainly working in a very cooperative way with the New Zealand government.

"NZ Rugby have been leading a lot of those discussions. We keep plugging away."

It has been reported that reigning champions and World Cup winners South Africa, Australia and Argentina could be based together in Queenstown in the South Island, with the All Blacks travelling around the country as normal.

Marinos was unwilling to confirm whether the Rugby Championship would follow the examples in other sports by creating a bio-secure bubble for teams.

"We have explored the possibility of centralising the other teams and just bringing them in and out for the various games. But again, that is very fluid. It's just a concept that we have considered," he said.

"The biggest challenge has always been that the players are going to be in a safe environment, and there is no doubt that New Zealand and Australia are probably safer than most major centres from an outbreak perspective.

"The other thing goes to player welfare. The quarantine can be managed if there is mobility and movement, and they can prepare.

"Given the stop-start nature of the seasons so far, it is imperative that players get as much physical activity as often as possible in order for them to stand up to the rigours of six Test matches in six weeks."

South Africa international RG Snyman faces a long spell on the sidelines after Munster confirmed the Rugby World Cup-winning lock has torn his anterior-cruciate ligament.

Snyman only made his debut for the province on Saturday against Leinster and landed awkwardly having stolen a lineout in the early stages of the Pro14 fixture.

Munster have confirmed that the 25-year-old has torn his ACL and will now meet with a specialist to discuss surgery.

Snyman has won 23 caps for the Springboks and was part of the squad which won the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Jacques Kallis, Lisa Sthalekar and Zaheer Abbas were inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Legendary South Africa all-rounder Kallis is the fourth player from his country to receive the honour, while Sthalekar is the 27th Australian and Abbas the sixth from Pakistan.

The great Kallis is the only player to score at least 10,000 runs and take at 250 wickets or more in both Test and ODI cricket.

Kallis is South Africa's leading Test run-scorer and the third-highest from any nation, while he also took 577 wickets for the Proteas in all formats during a stellar career.

"It's a great honour to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. It is something that I never expected when I started playing," said Kallis.

"I certainly did not play the game for any accolades or anything like that, I only wanted to win the games for whoever I was playing for."

Gifted all-rounder Sthalekar was a key member of the Australia side that won the Women's World Cup in 2005 and 2013, as well as the T20 World Cup in 2010 and 2012.

She topped both the ODI batting and bowling rankings and goes down as the first woman to as score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets in ODIs

Sthalekar said: "I am deeply humbled to receive this honour. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would ever get to join such an illustrious group of players."

Abbas was known as the 'Asian Bradman' due to the style in which he piled on the runs in the 1970s and 80s.

He is the only player from Asia to have scored at least 100 first-class centuries.

"I feel privileged and truly humbled to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame of the class of 2020. I am excited to be in the midst of other illustrious cricketers," said Abbas of becoming one of 93 players to join the Hall of Fame.

South Africa hooker Malcolm Marx is returning to Japan to join Top League side Kubota Spears. 

The Rugby World Cup winner took the opportunity to opt out of his contract with Super Rugby side the Lions in May after players were given the option as part of cost-cutting measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Marx became a free agent and has decided to continue his career in the country where he lifted the Webb Ellis Cup last year.

The 26-year-old had a spell with the Shining Arcs in Japan last season after taking a six-month sabbatical following the Springboks' World Cup triumph.

Marx joins a Funabashi-based franchise coached by his compatriot Frans Ludeke.

The uncompromising Marx, who has 33 caps to his name, had to settle for a place on the bench for the World Cup final as Bongi Mbonambi got the nod to start against England.

West Indies players account for the lions share of those considered the best to ever play the game as SportsMax completed its Ultimate XI T20 team ahead of the start of the Hero Caribbean Premier League on Tuesday.

A combination of a panel of experts, the SportsMax Zone, and fans who voted online called fanalysts completed voting on the SportsMax Ultimate XI team with a final discussion on three impact players.

The final six players from which the three were chosen were West Indians

Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, and Andre Russell, Australian Shane Watson, Pakistani Shahid Afridi, and Indian Yuvraj Singh.

The panel, made up of cricket commentator and broadcast journalist, Fazeer Mohammed, cricket umpire Chris Taylor, and statistician, Zaheer Clarke, picked an all-West Indian cast as their impact players, in complete agreement with the SportsMax Zone and Fanalysts.

There was one dissenting voice among the panellists with Fazeer deciding on Shane Watson over Kieron Pollard, however, Clarke and Taylor’s votes were enough to overrule him.

With all parties, the Zone, the panel, and fanalysts in agreement, the final list of the greatest T20 team of all time is complete.

The openers are Chris Gayle and David warner, the middle-order, batsmen 3-5 are Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the bowlers are Sunil Narine, Rashid Khan and Lasith Malinga, while the impact players are Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Powell and Andre Russell.

The Ultimate XI T20 team is made up of five West Indians in Gayle, Narine, Bravo, Pollard, and Russell, while Kohli and Dhoni make up the Indian contingent. Then there is the South African representation in de Villiers, one Australian in Warner, a Sri Lankan in Malinga, and the Afghan Rashid.

Chris Nenzani has resigned as Cricket South Africa (CSA) president, bringing a premature end to his seven-year tenure.

Nenzani's latest term – extended by a year in 2019 – had been set to end at the start of September.

However, he quit on Saturday, reportedly just hours after CSA chief operating officer Naasei Appiah was sacked, with confirmation following on Monday.

The CSA will not rush to appoint a replacement, however, leaving the role vacant until the end of the term.

"A new president and chairman will be appointed at the annual general meeting on September 5," a short statement read.

An orthodox batsman able to adapt to all-conditions with fantastic technique and a dogged approach at the crease made Faf du Plessis an asset in the age of T20 cricket.

Moreover, his ability to strike it big is a testament to the versatility of the man.

He played his maiden T20I against England on September 8, 2012 and rose to the position of the Proteas skipper. He has a strike rate of 135.48 and has scored 1363 runs in 44 matches.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Francois du Plessis

Born: 13 July 1984 (age 36), Pretoria, Transvaal Province, South Africa

Major teams: South Africa, Chennai Super Kings, Edmonton Royals, Kent, Lancashire, Lancashire 2nd XI, Melbourne Renegades, Nicky Oppenheimer XI, North Eastern Transvaal, Northerns, Nottinghamshire 2nd XI, Paarl Rocks, Rising Pune Supergiants, South Africa A, South Africa Academy, South Africa Under-19s, South Africa XI, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Titans, World-XIPlaying role: Middle-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Leg break

 

T20I Career (South Africa)

Mat   Inns   NO   Runs    HS    Ave    BF      SR      100   50   4s     6s  

47       47      6     1407     119   34.31  1049  134.12   1      8    130    45 

T20 Career

Mat    Inns   NO   Runs   HS     Ave     BF     SR        100    50   4s      6s  

219     203     22    5258    119   29.04   4142  126.94     1     31    461    157      

 

Career Highlights

  • 4th most T20I runs by a South African, 1407, avg. 34.31
  • 1st South African to score a century in all international formats
  • 47 T20I caps for RSA
  • One T20I century (119)
  • 5258 T20 runs at 29.04

An aggressive fast bowler capable of bowling at speeds in excess of 150 km/h, South Africa’s Dale Steyn is capable of generating considerable swing and is usually chosen to bowl with the new ball to maximize these attributes.

These qualities have seen him take 256 T20 wickets and 64 for South Africa.

His best bowling of 4 for 9 came against the West Indies at Port Elizabeth in December 2007 in a match South Africa lost by five wickets.

 

Career Statistics (2005-present)

Full name: Dale Willem Steyn

Born: June 27, 1983, Phalaborwa (37)

Major teams: South Africa, Africa XI, Botha XI, Cape Cobras, Cape Town Blitz, Deccan Chargers, Essex, Glamorgan, Gujarat Lions, Hampshire, Islamabad United, Jamaica Tallawahs, Melbourne Stars, Nelson Mandela Bay Stars, North Eastern Transvaal, Northerns, Proteas, Rest of South Africa, Royal Challengers Bangalore, South Africa A, South African Invitation XI, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Titans, Warwickshire

Playing role: Bowler

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm fast

 

T20I Career

Mat      Inns     Balls      Runs      Wkts      BBI     BBM      Ave      Econ      SR       4w      5w       10w

47          47       1015      1175         64         4/9      4/9       18.35     6.94      15.8      2         0          0

 

T20 Career

Mat       Inns      Balls     Runs      Wkts      BBI       BBM      Ave      Econ      SR          4w     5w      10w

220        217       4883      5499       256        4/9        4/9       21.48     6.75      19.0         4        0          0

 

Career highlights

  • #1 wicket-taker for RSA in T20I, 64 in 47 matches at 18.35
  • 6th most wickets taken in T20 WC history, 30 in 23 at 19.30
  • 1 T20I four-wicket haul
  • 256 T20 wickets captured at 21.48
  • Featured in Wisden Cricketers of the Decade at the end of 2019
  • The seventh-best economy rate in IPL history of 6.72

With 63 international T20 wickets, Imran Tahir is South Africa’s leading bowler in that format.

At the 2014 ICC World Twenty20, Tahir returned his best figures of 4–21 in South Africa's match against the Netherlands and was awarded man of the match. Tahir was joint highest wicket-taker in the tournament along with Ahsan Malik from the Netherlands; both took 12 wickets in the tournament.

In the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup quarter-final match between South Africa and Sri Lanka, Tahir helped South Africa to their first ever World Cup knockout win with a Man of the Match performance of 4-26.

In February 2017, he reached the top position in both the ODI and T20I rankings for bowlers, and three months later was named T20I Cricketer of the Year at Cricket South Africa's annual awards.

 

Career Statistics (2006-present)

Full name: Mohammad Imran Tahir

Born: March 27, 1979, Lahore, Punjab (41)

Major teams:  South Africa, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Derbyshire, Dolphins, Durham, Durham 2nd XI, Duronto Rajshahi, Eastern Transvaal, Easterns, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Hampshire, Hampshire 2nd XI, Hampshire 2nd XI, ICC World XI, Lahore City, Lahore Lions, Lahore Ravi, Lahore Whites, Lions, Middlesex, Middlesex 2nd XI, Multan Sultans, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, North Eastern Transvaal, Nottinghamshire.

Playing role: Bowler

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Legbreak googly

 

T20I Career

Mat   Inns    Balls    Runs     Wkts     BBI      BBM     Ave      Econ    SR      4w    5w    10w

38       38        845     948         63       5/23      5/23     15.04    6.73    13.4      2        2      0

 

T20 Career

Mat   Inns   Balls     Runs     Wkts     BBI     BBM    Ave     Econ     SR       4w    5w    10w

290     276    6203      7246      365      5/23     5/23    19.85    7.00     16.9     10       2       0

 

Career Highlights

  • 63 T20I scalps in 38 matches at 15.04
  • 2 Four wkt hauls, 2 five wkt hauls in T20I
  • Leading wicket taker in 2014 T20 WC (12)
  • Tied 2nd fastest player to reach 50 T20I wickets (31 matches)
  • 4th most T20 wickets (365)
  • IPL purple cap winner for most wickets in 2019

A gifted cricketer, who didn’t quite live up to expectation as a Test player, JP Duminy still managed to become South Africa's leading T20 run-scorer, in 2013, as well as the first from the country to amass 1500 runs in the format.

He would eventually score almost 2000 T20 runs representing South Africa averaging 38 runs per innings.

He has also excelled in T20 leagues across the globe in which he scored almost 6400 runs at a healthy average of 37.19.

Duminy played in the Indian Premier League in 2009 after the Mumbai Indians franchise acquired him. He rewarded them by scoring two half-centuries in the tournament. He eventually went on to play for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Deccan Chargers and was named the captain of Delhi Daredevils in 2015. He was bought back by Mumbai Indians for the 2018 season and later released ahead of the 2019 IPL auction.

The middle-order batsman also plied his trade in the Pakistan Super League in 2018 for Islamabad United whom he captained to the league title. He also captained Winnipeg Hawks to the 2019 Global T20 Canada title. He was named Player of the Tournament during which he was the leading run-scorer.

His final T20 tournament was the 2019 Caribbean Premier League when he played for Barbados Tridents.

 

Career statistics

Full name: Jean-Paul Duminy

Born: April 14, 1984, Strandfontein, Cape Town, Cape Province (36)

Major teams: South Africa, Barbados Tridents, Cape Cobras, Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils, Devon, Islamabad United, Mumbai Indians, South Africa Under-19s, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Surrey, Western Province, Western Province Boland, Winnipeg Hawks

Playing role: Batting allrounder

Batting style: Left-hand bat

 

T20I Career (2004-present)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS       Ave     BF        SR        100     50    

81        75      25      1934     96*     38.68   1532   126.24      0        11    

T20 Career

Mat      Inns    NO     Runs      HS      Ave      BF        SR        100     50    

264       248      76      6397      99*     37.19    5215   122.66     0        42    

 

Career highlights

  • Most Capped T20I player for South Africa (81 matches)
  • Leading T20I runs scorer for South Africa
  • 6th best batting average in T20Is (38.68)
  • Most runs & Player of the tournament at 2019 Global T20 Canada
  • 6397 T20 runs at 37.19

AB De Villiers had every shot in the book and some that were not in it. He could hit the ball anywhere regardless of who was bowling. One of South Africa’s great players in Tests and ODIs, De Villiers won himself an army of fans playing T20 cricket in the Indian Premier League.

In ODI’s he saved some of his most destructive performances for the West Indies. In 2008, he scored blistering 103 not out off 109 balls in Durban against the Caribbean side. Then in January 2015, he broke the record for the fastest ODI century, reaching it in just 31 balls against West Indies at the Wanderers.

Though he struggled in T20 internationals largely because he was batting too low in the order, De Villers thrived playing in the Indian Premier League as one of the Royal Challengers Bangalore's most successful players.

He never scored a T20 century for South Africa, he scored four in league matches while amassing 8567 runs at a healthy average of 37.15 with a strike rate of 149.77

In a memorable match in the 2014 edition of the  IPL, de Villiers smacked his countryman Steyn for 23 runs in one over.

Career Statistics

Full name: Abraham Benjamin de Villiers

Born: February 17, 1984, Pretoria (36)

Major teams: South Africa, Africa XI, Barbados Tridents, Botha XI, Brisbane Heat, Delhi Daredevils, Jacques Kallis Invitational XI, Lahore Qalandars, Middlesex, North Eastern Transvaal, Northerns, Pretoria University, Proteas, Rangpur Riders, Rest of South Africa, Royal Challengers Bangalore, South Africa A, South Africa Under-19s, Titans, Tshwane Spartans

Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

 

T20I Career (2004-present)

Mat          Inns         NO          Runs        HS           Ave         BF           SR           100         50            4s            6s               Ct            St

78            75            11            1672        79*          26.12       1237        135.16     0             10            140          60            65            7

 

T20 Career

Mat          Inns         NO          Runs        HS           Ave         BF           SR           100          50            4s            6s               Ct            St

310          292          59            8657        133*        37.15      5780        149.77       4            62            697          397           205          17

 

Career highlights

  • Featured in Wisden Cricketers of the Decade at the end of 2019
  • Tied 2nd most T20I caps for South Africa (78)
  • 2nd most T20I runs scored for SA (18th all-time), 1672- avg. 26.12
  • Most T20 WC matches for SA (30)
  • Leading T20 WC runs scorer for SA (5th all-time), 717r- avg. 29.87
  • 8657 T20 runs at 37.15
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