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Fresh concerns for Lions tour after three Covid cases in Springboks camp

South Africa is currently in the midst of an alarming third wave of Covid-19.

The Lions are due to play eight games in South Africa.
The Lions are due to play eight games in South Africa.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THERE ARE FRESH concerns for the Lions’ tour of South Africa after the Springboks reported three positive Covid-19 cases in their camp.

Warren Gatland and his squad are still due to fly out to South Africa this evening for an eight-game tour culminating in three Tests against the Springboks.

However, South Africa is currently dealing with an alarming third wave of Covid-19 and it has reached the Springboks’ camp.

Three players tested positive for the virus following PCR testing on arrival at the Boks’ team base in Johannesburg yesterday, meaning training has been cancelled indefinitely.

Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber’s entire squad is now in self-isolation as a precaution until further specialist medical advice is sought. The Springboks are due to play Georgia this coming Friday and also the following weekend.

“SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus emphasised that the team had followed all the necessary precautions since the start of the three-week conditioning camp hosted in Bloemfontein, which included mandatory Covid-19 testing three times a week, and that they would be led by specialist advice before any action is taken,” reads a statement from SA Rugby.

It is particularly concerning that three positive Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the Boks camp, given that it’s understood the Springboks have all been fully vaccinated ahead of the Lions series.

The Lions are not due to play the Springboks until 24 July, four weekends from now.

“It is disruptive but it has happened to other rugby teams over the last months and we have enough players in our camp to go ahead with our matches. There is no threat to either the Tests against Georgia or the Lions tour,” said Erasmus, who is hopeful that re-testing of the players may show the three results as false positives.

As things stand, the Lions are due to play five of their eight games in the province of Gauteng, where Johannesburg is located and which is the epicentre of the latest surge of Covid cases within the South African public.

There is already a hospital crisis in Gauteng, where nearly 12,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Friday.

The other three Lions games are due to be played in Cape Town, based in the Western Cape province, and The42 understands that SA Rugby is now considering moving all of the fixtures there in a bid to rescue the tour.

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It is also thought that there may even be a contingency plan to play only the three Test games against the Springboks.

Currently, the Lions are due to play five other different teams – the Lions, Sharks, Bulls, South Africa A, and Stormers – before the Test series, meaning further exposure to a wider range of opposition.

It’s understood that the Lions – who are also fully vaccinated – have growing concerns over the viability of their tour given the worsening Covid-19 situation across South Africa, even if they are still due to fly out of Edinburgh this evening.

The optics of a rugby tour taking place amidst the suffering of the South African public have already been called into question.

The tourists’ board will also be aware that the entire concept of the Lions could be badly damaged if this tour receives a widespread backlash.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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