Rugby teams stuck in South Africa as new Covid crisis deepens

The Cardiff Blues are struggling to get home from South Africa.

Clive Rose/Getty Images

The Cardiff Blues are struggling to get home from South Africa.

The Munster and Cardiff rugby teams are stuck in South Africa as the new Covid variant causes travel chaos.

Munster and Cardiff were in South Africa for United Rugby Championship matches against South African teams when the crisis hit over the weekend as the “Omicron” variant was confirmed in the southern regions of the massive continent.

Players from both sides have tested positive.

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The Auckland University Professor Rod Jackson advised people not to book international travel in 2022 unless they can get out of them.

They have been forced into hotel isolation and missed the charter flight home from Cape Town they were booked to share with fellow European clubs Scarlets and Zebre as flights scrambled to get out of the republic with global destinations shrinking.

READ MORE:
* Covid-19: Why it’s called Omicron, and everything else you need to know about the new variant
* Australian government introduces bans on Africa travel over new Omicron Covid-19 variant
* New Covid-19 variant hits sport as players, teams scramble to get out of southern Africa

“After arriving at their hotel in Cape Town late last night the squad underwent a round of PCR testing ahead of today’s possible departure. The returning results have identified one positive case,” a statement from Munster confirmed.

“In taking all precautions and prioritising the health and wellbeing of everyone Munster Rugby will not travel today and will return to their hotel for an isolation period as a matter of priority.

“The province will await further guidance from the health authorities.”

Cardiff confirmed they were also unable to depart following two positive cases, one of which is suspected to be the new variant.

The Welsh club said in a statement: “As a consequence of one of these results suspected of being Omicron, the entire travelling party have returned to their hotel to isolate.

“Cardiff Rugby continue to work with the South African Rugby Union, the Welsh Rugby Union and public health authorities both at home and abroad to decide the next course of action.

“The club are also continuing to work with all relevant authorities to secure the travelling party’s return to Wales when safe and appropriate.”

Sixteen teams – four each from South Africa, Wales and Ireland and two apiece from Italy and Scotland – contest the new United Rugby Championship.

Next weekend’s Round 7 games of the United Rugby Championship, due to be played in South Africa, have been cancelled.

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