SA Rugby have revealed why they withdrew the Springboks from the Rugby Championship, saying taking part would have threatened to "seriously jeopardise player welfare".
An SA Rugby press release stated the South African-based portion of what was a 46-player squad was scheduled to fly from Johannesburg on Sunday, however, government regulations as currently drafted meant it was unclear whether the team would legally be able to depart.
Meanwhile, 24 overseas-based players, who had been identified for potential selection and for whom visas had been applied, were based with European or Japanese clubs.
SA Rugby consulted with MyPlayers – the players' representative body – who supported the decision.
Former Springboks coach and now Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said that his department had planned for every scenario.
"We worked out that the players needed a minimum of 400 minutes of game time before they could be ready for a test match," said Erasmus.
"The overseas-based players had started playing before us and they would have been getting close to that time by 7 November.
"But many of those have completed their programmes or have had Covid outbreaks which has interrupted the planning. The Japanese based players haven't played any rugby at all, while the home-based players would be well short of 400 minutes by the time of kick-off."
SA-based players played their first competitive matches at the weekend, 29 weeks after their last competitive match in Vodacom Super Rugby. In contrast, New Zealand's and Australia's players contested a test match on Saturday, 17 weeks and 14 weeks respectively after they resumed competitive rugby.
"It has been an extremely challenging year and what started out as a two-week lockdown evolved into a global crisis, one of whose side effects has been to decimate our rugby calendar," Roux said.
"It seems impossible that the Springboks won't play a test match in 2020, but public health and safety have been the primary concern and we have been collateral damage like so many businesses.
"All we can do now is enjoy our domestic competitions and find ways to be ready for the arrival of the British & Irish Lions in 2021."