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'Yes, there are people in the Lions bubble that haven’t been double-jabbed'

Lions MD Ben Calveley defended the decision to proceed with this evening’s game against the Sharks.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley.
Lions managing director Ben Calveley.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

BRITISH AND IRISH Lions managing director Ben Calveley has defended the decision to proceed with this evening’s game against the Sharks despite two positive Covid-19 cases in the tourists’ set-up.

Calveley also revealed that some members of the Lions’ touring party are not fully vaccinated. South Africa is currently struggling with a rampant third wave of the virus.

A Lions player and a member of management returned positive results today following PCR and lateral flow testing, with a further 12 people – eight players and four management – identified as close contacts.

However, this evening’s game has been given the green light to go ahead by the Lions series ‘Medical Advisory Group.’

Calveley was asked by Sky Sports if proceeding with the Sharks clash is a good idea given the positive tests.

“We certainly think it is,” said Calveley. “The Medical Advisory Group contains independent virologists and infectious disease experts on that group and their recommendation is that the match can proceed.

“So we see it as a positive that we are showing that we can overcome all the challenges that face us and we are determined to make sure we can put a tour on for the players, the fans, and for all of our friends here in South Africa.”

Calveley explained the situation that unfolded today.

“We had one positive case in the camp this morning,” he said. “That person had four close contacts. Two of them were players, two of them were management, so we immediately isolated everyone in the tour party.

“We then both lateral flow and PCR tested everybody and those results came back negative apart from one single positive. So just out of an abundance of caution, we isolated that one individual and all of his close contacts.

“We then consulted with our Medical Advisory Group which contains all the relevant medical experts and their advice was that the match can proceed so we are going ahead with the match tonight.”

Calveley then confirmed that some members of the Lions’ party are not fully vaccinated.

“Yes, there are people in the Lions bubble that haven’t been double-jabbed,” said Calveley. “The vast majority, the very high majority have been double-jabbed.”

Asked about the Springboks’ levels of vaccination, Calveley said, “It’s not for me to answer questions about them.”

Calveley could not provide any detail on how the Lions’ struct ‘bubble’ was breached.

“We are in a secure, tightly controlled bubble environment but what’s absolutely the case, and we have seen it in sport around the world, is that no bubble is entirely impenetrable.

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“That’s why we set up our Medical Advisory Group so we can take advice from the experts whether it is OK to proceed with matches like this. We are really pleased that they have said this is OK to proceed.”

Calveley said the Lions are currently working with SA Rugby in a bid to find a new opponent for this Saturday after their planned clash with the Bulls was postponed due five positive Covid-19 cases in the Bulls’ camp.

However, Calveley underlined that the priority is to get the three-game Test series played.

“All the games are important, but you’re absolutely right, the Test series is paramount,” he said. “We’re here in South Africa and our intention is to get the games over the line in South Africa.

“We play the match tonight, go on and deal with Saturday, then move to Cape Town on Sunday, and at the moment there is no intention to deviate from that agreed schedule.”

Calveley rejected the suggestion that the current chaos caused by Covid in the Lions and Springboks’ camps has been exhausting and instead claimed that it has been a positive.

“Not exhausting at all, we’re seeing this as a positive,” said Calveley. “We’re lucky. We’ve got a fantastic group of players, great staff, we’re all working together as a group to get over these challenges as they present themselves.

“But we’re here to play rugby, and we’re really pleased we have a match on against the Sharks this evening, which we think will be a fantastic fixture and everybody enjoys it.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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