Covid-19 hampers Lions tour of South Africa

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British Lions management said they are determined to complete their tour of South Africa, but those prospects took a hit on Wednesday.


South Africa cancelled its second warm-up Test against Georgia because 12 members of the Springbok squad, both players and management, tested positive. Georgia had six positive tests in their camp.


Players Handré Pollard, Frans Steyn, Lood de Jager, Marvin Orie and Frans Malherbe and coach Jacques Nienaber have all returned positive tests in the Springbok camp.


South Africa won their first Test against Georgia at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, 40-9. The second Test was to have been played this week in Johannesburg.


South Africa Rugby chief executive 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.


"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 the 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," he said.


The Lions delayed their game against the under-strength Sharks, at Ellis Park, for an hour. A member of Lions management tested positive, forcing 12 of the tourists into self-isolation at the team hotel.

The Lions had to make eight changes to their match 23 moments before the game. They went on to win 54-7, with South African-born wing Duhan van der Merwe and Josh Adams, playing at fullback instead of wing, scoring a hat-trick of tries.


The Lions played with a seven-one split on their bench with Finn Russell the solitary back.


It was confirmed that not all of the Lions' touring team received both shots of their vaccine.


Their game against the Bulls has been cancelled. The Bulls had positive tests in their camp and withdrew from the game. Frantic efforts are being made to find an alternative game for the Lions.


There was also disappointment that because of the need to be in bio-secure environments, there had been no chance to interact with the Georgians, he said.


Georgia Rugby said in a statement, "Both teams did everything possible to play this match, but unfortunately [the] pandemic situation got worse."


They said they had strictly followed regulations but had still succumbed.


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