SATURDAY’S match between the British & Irish Lions and the Vodacom Bulls has been postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the home squad. Consideration is now being given to the possibility of rescheduling the game in a midweek slot later in the tour or to the Lions accommodating an alternative opponent.
Four Bulls players and one member of management returned positive tests which, in combination with their close contacts, made it impossible for them to field a team, according to this summer’s Lions series safety protocols.
Series regulations make provision for additional midweek matches to be added on agreement between the organizations.
Meanwhile, the Springboks’ second warm-up Test against Georgia on Friday night is also being reviewed after 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 head coach Jacques Nienaber, and one masseuse, have thrown that game into doubt. Springbok second-row Lood de Jager previously tested positive on Monday.
The latest medical data from the Springbok and Georgian teams will be assessed by the Medical Advisory Group (MAG) tomorrow [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.
“The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series 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 Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on Wednesday, KO 19h00 (18h00 BST) will take place as scheduled.
Stuart Hogg has emerged as a doubt for that game after picking up an injury in training. The Scotland captain, who led the tourists to an emphatic win over the Sigma Lions in their first match in South Africa at the weekend, will be tested this morning before it is decided whether he is fit to take his place on the bench tonight.
“Hoggy is carrying a little bit of a dead leg,” explained Lions assistant coach Steve Tandy. “So we’ll probably make a decision on that in the morning to see how he holds up.”