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Lions' clash with Bulls postponed as Boks and Georgia confirm new Covid cases

Boks head coach Jacques Nienaber and four more players have tested positive.

The Lions were due to face the Bulls on Saturday.
The Lions were due to face the Bulls on Saturday.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Updated Jul 6th 2021, 6:01 PM

THE LIONS’ CLASH with the Bulls on Saturday has been officially postponed after the South African side confirmed positive Covid-19 cases in their squad.

SA Rugby and the Lions have announced that this weekend’s game will not take place as planned, although there are hopes of rescheduling it or potentially accommodating an alternative opponent for the Lions.

Meanwhile, the Springboks’ meeting with Georgia on Friday is in severe doubt after 11 new Covid cases in the South African camp and four cases in the Georgian group.

Boks head coach Jacques Nienaber, five other members of management, four players – Frans Steyn, Handré Pollard, Frans Malherbe, and Marvin Orie – and a masseuse have tested positive for Covid-19.

Those cases bring to 12 the total number of positives in the Springboks’ camp following lock Lood de Jager’s confirmed case yesterday.

Meanwhile, there have been four positive results among the Georgian group.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux admitted that Friday’s game against Georgia “is now in serious doubt” but said a final decision will be made by SA Rugby’s medical advisory group tomorrow.

All of this comes as a major blow to the Lions tour, with their three-game Test series against the Boks due to begin on 24 July.

South Africa is in the midst of a third wave of the virus, with case numbers at alarming levels and the healthcare system under intense pressure.

The Lions are due to play the Sharks in Johannesburg tomorrow and while that fixture is still set to go ahead as planned, Saturday’s scheduled meeting with the Bulls won’t take place.

It has been confirmed that there are five positive cases of Covid in the Bulls group and a number of close contacts have been identified, making it “impossible for them to field a team,” according to SA Rugby.

SA Rugby said that “series regulations make provision for additional midweek matches to be added on agreement between the organizations,” but it remains to be seen what happens next.

The Lions have a midweek game against South Africa A next Wednesday, followed by a Saturday meeting with the Stormers, and it could be that the Bulls fixture is rescheduled for a date in the week of the first Test.

The Boks clash with Georgia this weekend, meanwhile, looks doomed and concerns about the ongoing viability of the Lions tour in South Africa will only continue to grow.

It is expected that the remainder of the tour will be moved en masse to Cape Town, where Covid numbers are not currently as high as the Johannesburg region.

“The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series and we will continue to focus on that,” said Roux. 

However, South African health experts have warned of an impending spike in the Covid situation in Cape Town too.

- This article was updated at 12.21pm on 7 July to correct a typo in the word ‘accommodating’ in the second paragraph.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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