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United Rugby Championship blow will be cushioned by derbies between SA teams – report

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Munster’s Gavin Coombes and Willie Engelbrecht of the DHL Stormers fight for possession during their United Rugby Championship match played at Thomond Park, Limerick on October 2 2021. Picture: Ryan Byrne, INPHO, Shutterstock

The Sharks are likely to play the Bulls this week and the Stormers the Lions as an emergency plan is implemented to rescue the United Rugby Championship.

DURBAN – The Sharks are likely to play the Bulls this week and the Stormers the Lions as an emergency plan is implemented to rescue the United Rugby Championship.

The URC was plunged into crisis on Friday when news of the Omicron variant in South Africa broke and the four overseas teams that were due to play the SA teams went into panic mode and fled the country.

ALSO READ: Omicron coronavirus variant brings international sport in southern Africa to a halt

The Scarlets, Cardiff, Munster and Zebre unilaterally chose to charter flights home so that they could be safely back before the red list ban on flights to and from SA kicked in.

Rapport has reported that the four SA franchises will now bring forward the matches against each other which were scheduled for later in the competition and play for URC points.

The Sharks vs Stormers game is currently scheduled for February 12, as is the Stormers vs Lions game, but these games could now be played this weekend.

It was further reported that SA Rugby offered to let the visiting teams fly back after this weekend’s fixtures on a special charter flight, but that was turned down and the tourists chose to do their own thing, and the URC announced that the fixtures would be played at a later date.

ALSO READ: SA’s weekend’s URC fixtures postponed due to new Covid-19 variant

This did not go down well with South African administrators who feel the visitors could have made a better effort to play the games, especially because the SA teams did some extremely hard yards in accepting four-match tours of Europe in September and October.

The feeling is that the matches could have been played and the visitors could still have made it home before the travel restriction deadline, but with there being no will, there was no way.

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