Bulls chief executive Edgar Rathbone did not confirm nor deny whether coach Jake White had also contracted Covid-19. | Screengrab from YouTube
Bulls chief executive Edgar Rathbone did not confirm nor deny whether coach Jake White had also contracted Covid-19. | Screengrab from YouTube

Bulls boss still wants fans back after Griquas game cancelled due to Covid-19

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Dec 18, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Just two weeks ago, the Blue Bulls seemed unstoppable. They had beaten the Cheetahs 40-13, which came after their first triumph over Western Province at Newlands in 11 years the week before.

They were leading the Sharks by eight points on the Currie Cup standings and were playing a pragmatic style complemented by a bunch of exciting backs who could cut defences to pieces.

And going into last weekend’s Kings Park clash, coach Jake White was understandably cock-a-hoop, with the Bulls having won 49-28 and 41-14 in their last two encounters against the Sharks.

White had a bit of a dig at the Sharks attack, and added that “there’s no reason why you would go into a game like this not knowing that if you play well, you can win”.

But all of that came back to haunt the former Springbok coach as the Sharks won 32-29.

The gloom from the trip to Durban has continued after SA Rugby yesterday cancelled tomorrow’s Bulls-Griquas match in Kimberley due to positive Covid-19 cases in the Pretoria team’s squad and management.

Bulls chief executive Edgar Rathbone did not confirm nor deny whether White had also contracted the virus.

“There are unfortunately a few of the players and staff who are showing some symptoms. These are human beings, so there are concerns if someone does show symptoms. But we are managing that as best as possible,” Rathbone said.

Rathbone suggested that the Durban journey may have been the cause of the positive cases. “As soon as you start travelling and staying in hotels – even if you stay in single rooms – the travel to and fro is where the problem comes in,” Rathbone said.

The two log points gained from tomorrow’s cancelled match takes the Bulls to 35 points, seven ahead of the Sharks, who now effectively have two matches in hand and can reduce the deficit to just three with a win over the Golden Lions at Ellis Park tomorrow.

But as Rathbone said, “the log is the log”, and the Bulls are more focused on ensuring that their players and staff recover quickly for their next match against the Lions at Loftus on Boxing Day.

“We will do further testing on Monday morning, and we will only be able to make a call on the coming week (Lions game) following that. In terms of SA Rugby protocol, if your positive cases infiltrate your front row, your contact tracing becomes a bit more complicated,” he said.

But Rathbone still feels that despite the “second wave” of Covid-19 sweeping through South Africa, he would still like to see some fans back at stadiums.

“I think for the rugby economy, it is important. And if you look at our stadiums and the way it’s designed and the space you’ve got, I think in terms of social distancing and adhering to protocols, it should be quite easy to do that,” Rathbone said.

“It’s still a priority for the rugby industry to get fans back into stadiums, so hopefully this doesn’t affect it.”

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