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Boks' clash with Georgia cancelled due to 16 Covid cases across both camps

SA Rugby will plough on towards the Test series despite a third wave of the virus in South Africa.

The Springboks' clash is off.
The Springboks' clash is off.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THE SPRINGBOKS’ CLASH with Georgia on Friday has been officially cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreaks in both camps.

The fixture was set to be a crucial part of the South Africans’ build-up to their Test series with the Lions, which is due to start on 24 July, but SA Rugby has confirmed that it won’t take place as “the risk of further infection made it impossible to continue with the match.”

The Springboks have had 12 positive Covid-19 cases in their camp this week. Head coach Jacques Nienaber, five other members of management, a masseuse, and five players – Lood de Jager, Frans Steyn, Handré Pollard, Frans Malherbe, and Marvin Orie – all returned positive PCR test results.

Boks training has been suspended and the entire group placed into isolation. This followed two positive Covid-19 cases in the squad last week.

Meanwhile, the visiting Georgians recorded four positive cases in their squad following last weekend’s 40-9 defeat to the Springboks.

As such, the cancellation of this Friday’s rematch was always highly likely and it has now been officially confirmed following a review of the situation by the Lions series ‘Medical Advisory Group.’

It comes as a major blow to the Boks in their build-up to the Lions series, although the tourists have also had a cancellation for this weekend after their scheduled opposition on Saturday, the Bulls, reported five positive Covid-19 cases in their squad.

The Springboks may now use South Africa A’s scheduled clash with the Lions on Wednesday 14 July to field a strong team as they look to tune-up for the Test series.

As things stand, two of the Tests are due to take place in Johannesburg – the epicentre of the current third wave of Covid-19 in South Africa – but it is expected that all three of the games will be moved to Cape Town.

The Lions tour is clearly on a knife-edge given the spread of Covid among three of the rugby squads due to be involved in games in South Africa this weekend.

The tourists have so far managed to keep Covid out of their camp but concerns over the viability of the Test series continue to grow.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux underlined that getting the Springboks ready for the Test series is the focus now.

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“In the context of the loss of life and economic damage that Covid and this third wave are wreaking, the cancellation of a rugby match is pretty trivial,” said Roux

“But it is still a major disappointment for the many stakeholders who have invested so much time, energy and resources into making these matches happen.

“I especially feel for the fans and players, and for our visitors from Georgia who travelled here at relatively short notice to take on the series, which has now been cut short. We’ve not been able to interact with them because of the bio-secure environments, but I’d like to thank them publicly for their support.

“We continue to plan for the Springboks’ re-emergence from isolation and the completion of the Test series but in the short-term we wish a speedy recovery for those who have been infected.”

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