Lions tour in turmoil as Covid strikes Bulls camp
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DURBAN – The British & Irish Lions tour of South African has been thrown into disarray after their match against the Bulls on Saturday has had to be postponed because of a Covid-19 outbreak in the ranks of the Pretoria team.
Also, the Springboks’ return match against Georgia on Friday night is almost certainly off because a number of players and management have tested positive for the virus, including head coach Jacques Nienaber.
Four Bulls players and one member of management returned positive tests on Tuesday which, in combination with their close contacts, made it impossible for them to field a team, according to safety protocols.
🚨 BREAKING: @lionsofficial v @BlueBullsRugby match postponed; Boks’ second Test against @GeorgianRugby being reviewed— Springboks (@Springboks) July 6, 2021
🗣️ "The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series"
👉 More here: https://t.co/klOw9vqj9l#CastleLionsSeries #StrongerTogether #StrongerForever pic.twitter.com/9rCOqvdlDg
Lions Series regulations make provision for additional midweek matches to be added on agreement between the organisations.
Meanwhile, four positive results among the Georgian team and four additional positive tests among Springbok players (Marvin Orie, Frans Steyn, Handre Pollard and Frans Malherbe) plus six among management, including Nienaber, and one masseuse, have further complicated planning.
The latest medical data from the Springbok and Georgian teams will be assessed by the Medical Advisory Group (MAG) on Wednesday morning.
“These positive results are a setback and have underlined the danger of transmissibility of the delta variant,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“The Springboks’ second Test against Georgia is now in serious doubt, but we will wait for the MAG to consider the data and we will make the final decision tomorrow.
🚨 ANNOUNCEMENT 🚨— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) July 6, 2021
The Vodacom Bulls match against the British & Irish Lions scheduled for this Saturday is on hold due to COVID. There is a view to reschedule the match or to accommodate an alternative opponent.
More information, here: https://t.co/VuXfmpDKZk pic.twitter.com/UjpQM3bOsF
“The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series against the Lions and we will continue to focus on that.”
A further update will be issued on potential alternative opponents for the Lions and on the Springboks’ second Test against Georgia as soon as the positions are finalised.
The British & Irish Lions’ match against the Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on Wednesday will take place as scheduled, at 7pm.