Springboks lose ’Highveld advantage’ after British Lions tour moved to Cape Town
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DURBAN - The badly kept secret that the entire series between the Boks and the Lions is to played in Cape Town has now been confirmed by SA Rugby.
The three-Test series was scheduled to return to Johannesburg on Sunday following the first Test in Cape Town on Saturday but this was never going to happen because of the Covid epidemic that has beset Gauteng.
The Boks’ second Test match against Georgia in Johannesburg was cancelled because of an outbreak of cases in both camps and there was also a cluster of cases in the B&I Lions camp during their time on the Highveld.
Once the tour moved to the Cape last week, where the pandemic is not as rife, it was always going to stay there.
All three test matches will now take place at the Cape Town Stadium on successive Saturdays – 24 and 31 July and 7 August.
“Following extensive consultation with medical experts, the data pointed in only one direction,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“The series has already been significantly disrupted by Covid and a return to Gauteng at this time would only increase the risks.
“We now have two teams in biosecure environments without any positive cases or anyone in isolation. To now return to the Highveld would expose the series to renewed risk.
“Everyone wants to see the two squads, at their strongest, playing out an unforgettable series over the next three weekends and this decision gives us the best opportunity to see that happen.”
Roux thanked Gauteng and the City of Cape Town for their flexibility and understanding to accommodate the late change of plan.
“We have had great support from local government, and I’d like to thank both Gauteng and the City of Cape Town for their open-minded engagement in what has been a very challenging time,” said Roux.
“Extraordinary times have called for extraordinary measures and we have had support from all our commercial partners despite the challenges.”
* Meanwhile, Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has reduced his squad to 37 players, with 10 players who have been part of the Springboks’ preparation for the three-Test Series against the British & Irish Lions having been released.
With the South Africa ‘A’ match having concluded, wings Yaw Penxe and Rosko Specman, centre Wandisile Simelane, scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, loose forwards Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez, props Coenie Oosthuizen and Lizo Gqoboka, and hookers Scarra Ntubeni and Fez Mbatha have all been released back to their franchises and clubs.