British and Irish Lions’ Covid-19 outbreak sees 12 players plunged into isolation before Sharks clash… but both parties are determined to complete South Africa tour
- A Covid outbreak in the British and Irish Lions squad has put the tour at risk
- A group of 12 of the Lions’ players and stuff were plunged into isolation
- Two positives threw the match-day 23 for Wednesday’s game out the window
- They are determined to complete the South Africa tour despite the threat
The Lions tour stumbled on in the face of Covid chaos on Wednesday as the tourists made it clear they intend to complete their trip despite now having the virus in camp.
On a dramatic, ever-changing day the Lions revealed:
• Two positive PCR test results were returned which forced 12 of their party into isolation and ripped up their match-day 23 for Wednesday’s Sharks tour match.
• Not all of their touring party have received both vaccines.
• They are yet to find a new opponent for Saturday, after the Bulls had positives in camp and withdrew.
• They remain firmly committed to completing the tour, and Test series, on South African soil despite multiple virus outbreaks.
The British and Irish Lions have been hit by a Covid outbreak which has disrupted their plains
Having received one lateral-flow positive result the Lions went into lockdown in their Johannesburg hotel on Wednesday morning, re-testing their entire group using PCRs.
Those showed that one player and the same member of staff who was the initial positive had the virus.
That meant Wednesday’s backline was ripped up – with Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Conor Murray, Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris – all staying in isolation as close contacts, as well as forward Tadhg Beirne and four members of staff.
Before the negative-tested Lions played the Sharks Chief Executive Ben Calveley, who confirmed ‘there are people in the Lions bubble that haven’t been double jabbed’, was asked if he thought it was a good idea to proceed with the tour.
‘We certainly think it is,’ he said.
Warren Gatland had to re-jig his line-up to play Cell C Sharks after 12 stars had to isolate
The Sharks were as determined as the touring Brits and Irish to press ahead with their match
‘Our Medical Advisory Group contains independent virologists and infectious disease experts and their recommendation was that the match could proceed.
‘We see it as a positive that we are showing that we can overcome all the challenges that face us and 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.
‘We are in a secure, tightly controlled bubble environment but no bubble is entirely impenetrable.
‘The Test series is paramount. We’re here in South Africa and our intention is to get the games over the line in South Africa.
‘We 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.’
The Lions do not have an opponent for Saturday yet and the Springboks’ second Test against Georgia, set for Friday, was cancelled with 12 cases among the South Africans and four with Los Lelos.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said: ‘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.’