Brakes slammed on SA's United Rugby Championship matches over variant risk

Liam Del Carme Sports reporter
Bulls coach Jake White prepared his team to take on Munster in a much anticipated clash at Loftus on Saturday. That match will have to be played at a later date.
Bulls coach Jake White prepared his team to take on Munster in a much anticipated clash at Loftus on Saturday. That match will have to be played at a later date.
Image: Gallo Images

The brakes have been slammed on SA's participants in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

This weekend's matches plus next week's in round seven in SA have been postponed due to the emergence of a new variant of Covid-19.

In a statement, organisers said that due to the sudden developments that had placed SA on the UK and EU travel red list, the matches would be rescheduled for later this season.

“The safety and wellbeing of our participating clubs' players, coaches, support staff and match officials is the foremost priority and the URC is now working with the four visiting clubs — Cardiff Rugby, Munster Rugby, Scarlets and Zebre Parma — to facilitate their return as soon as possible,” the statement advised.

“This decision is based upon the latest guidance against non-essential travel to and from SA, the ban on direct flights to the UK and other home destinations and the potential hotel quarantines enforced upon those returning from SA.

“As has been the operating practice throughout the pandemic, the URC will continue engaging with our medical advisory group, our union shareholders and respective governments to plan according to the latest health guidelines.

“A period of assessment will now be required to better understand the impact of these new travel restrictions and how to reschedule these games within the current season. Given the nature and speed of these developments URC will provide further updates at the appropriate time through official channels only.”

On Friday high-ranking URC officials were also scrambling to get flights back to the UK and Ireland before travel deadlines from Southern Africa became effective. SA's entry into the URC has been far from smooth with their initial entry also delayed because of the pandemic.

SA's teams have only played four matches each, all of them away from home. The four local franchises were looking forward to playing their first matches in the competition on home soil this weekend but when that will actually happened is anybody's guess.


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