United Rugby championship side Cardiff against the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship. Photo: Ashley Crowden/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix
United Rugby championship side Cardiff against the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship. Photo: Ashley Crowden/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Blow for Sharks, Lions as Welsh URC teams scramble to leave SA before UK ’red list’ deadline

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Nov 26, 2021

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Durban - The Welsh rugby teams in South Africa are scrambling to get home to escape the new Covid-19 variant that has emerged in South Africa, plunging the United Rugby Championship into crisis.

The Scarlets and Cardiff teams are due to play the Sharks and the Lions this weekend but they have announced that they are in a race to get out of South Africa before a travel ban between the United Kingdom and this country kicks in at 2pm today (Friday).

The UK government last night confirmed that South Africa is to return to its “red list” after having been removed in October. If the Welsh teams can depart SA before 2pm, they will not have to go into 10-day isolation periods at home.

The Scarlets last night tweeted that they are “making every effort to get our touring party home as soon as possible” while Cardiff said they are looking to repatriate their team ASAP “to ensure the safety and welfare of our people”.

The Italian and Irish governments have yet to react publicly to the latest Covid developments in SA, so theoretically, the Stormers v Zebre game on Saturday is still on, as is Munster’s visit to the Bulls, but almost certainly these games will also fall away.

The likely cancellation of the weekend’s URC fixtures in SA is a massive setback for rugby in this country because it was due to mark the return of a limited number of fans (2000) to stadiums.

The SA teams also are in desperate need to gain log points and climb the ladder after underwhelming tours of Europe in September and October.

@MikeGreenaway

IOL Sport

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