The good news for the beleaguered British and Irish Lions tour is that the Springboks will resume training on Sunday after a chaotic week in their camp due to multiple positive cases of Covid-19.
THE GOOD news for the beleaguered British and Irish Lions tour is that the Springboks will resume training on Sunday after a chaotic week in their camp thanks to multiple positive cases of Covid-19.
While the Lions were able to play two matches against the Sharks this week as the countdown to the July 24 first Test picks up, the Boks were in self-isolation, restricted to their hotel rooms, and there has been speculation that the tour was in danger of being called off.
But on Sunday the Springbok camp said that after six rounds of testing and a six-day preventative self-isolation period a large group of players have been cleared to return to the field.
All the players and management who had tests on Saturday returned negative test results, which paved the way for the players to train today.
This was after four rounds of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing last week delivered new positive cases among the players and three among the team management.
The players who tested positive were Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Dan du Preez, Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni and Makazole Mapimpi.
The entire squad and management team were then confined to their rooms from Monday to halt the transmission through close contact.
With two hookers and props among the positive results, Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha and Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka have been drafted into the squad as cover.
SA Rugby Director Rassie Erasmus will take the lead at the field training sessions with assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick, Daan Human and Deon Davids because head coach Jacques Nienaber remains in self-isolation after testing positive on Monday.
“We are delighted to be able to return to the field and resume our preparations for the Lions Series,” said Nienaber. “It has been a challenging week with the Test against Georgia canceled and the entire squad self-isolating, so the players cannot wait to get back on the park.
“The Test against Georgia was an important part of our preparation for the Lions, but these are extraordinary times and we have to adapt as a team, and I have to commend the players and management for that.
“It is also great to have Rassie steering the ship while I am away. He has been part of the system for several years now and he guided most of these players to the Rugby World Cup title in 2019, so the team is in great hands.”
Meanwhile, the South Africa ‘A’ match against the Lions in Cape Town on Wednesday is going ahead as scheduled.