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Dan Sheridan/INPHO The Lions' back rows after their win over the Sharks.
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'I'd be shocked if players aren't starting to question how smart it is to stay'
It has been a chaotic week for the Lions in South Africa.

IN A CHAOTIC week for the Lions in South Africa, there has been growing concern over the viability of the rugby tour continuing as planned.

The Springboks announced 12 new positive cases of Covid-19, Georgia had four, the Bulls confirmed five positives, and the Lions had two – one of which now appears to have been a false positive, although that still has to be confirmed today.

The situation in South Africa was on the agenda on yesterday’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly, where Bernard Jackman shared his doubts about the Lions tour with Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella.

“If it gets any worse, I think they’re going to have to make a radical call,” said Jackman. “The thought of having to watch the British and Irish Lions against the Sharks again this weekend is demoralising. The last one was horrendous quality.

“I actually turned it off, one of the rare times I turned off a rugby match to watch a soccer game. I caught up with the rest of it in the morning. To watch it again three days later…

“From a player point of view, these guys spend their whole lives trying to stay healthy and stay fit. I’d be shocked if some of them aren’t deliberating the necessity or smartness or the strategy to stay, honestly, because when you hear of long Covid – obviously there’s a short-term risk – but the effect long Covid is having on people, players must be aware of that.

“If the series doesn’t get finished which, let’s be honest, depends on how they get through the next week but if things stay the way there are, the series might not be played or finished, yet you’re still risking your long-term health.

“It must be tough. It’s such an honour to play for the Lions and Lions v South Africa is huge, but what we’ve seen so far – and I know it’s not the Test matches – with no crowds, shoddy opposition, the health side of it – which should be the most important – I’d be shocked if players aren’t starting to question how smart it is to stay.”

Speaking yesterday, Jackman expressed his feeling that the tour of South Africa should be curtailed.

“To be honest with you, my gut feeling at the moment is that I don’t really support it going ahead. I wish I felt differently but that’s my honest feeling at the moment.

“Maybe things will change and I’ll see there are reasons other than money why everyone’s making such an effort to keep it going but I think it’s at a knife-edge now in terms of how important is player health?

“Not just players but management, the families they’re going to have to come back to, the South African teams if they’re catching it or transmitting it in their bubbles and going back to their families.

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“That’s what’s really concerning me at the moment.”

Elsewhere on the latest edition of The42 Rugby Weekly, the lads discussed the new Rugby Europe Super Cup and reflected on the Ireland U20s’ comeback win against Italy.

They also shared their excitement about the Ireland team Andy Farrell has picked to face the US in Dublin tomorrow.

You can listen to The42 Rugby Weekly below or wherever you get your pods, while Rugby Weekly Extra comes out every Monday for members of The42.


The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey discuss whether or not the Lions’ tour of South Africa should really be going ahead, the new faces in Andy Farrell’s Ireland team, and Luke Carty’s return in stars and stripes.

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