Boks’ UK tour in jeopardy due to bubble fatigue

The Springboks may not head off on their end-of-year tour if they have to be subjected to another strict bio-bubble environment once again.

The Bok squad has been in some form of ‘bubble’ life since June, with the players not spending any meaningful time at home for the better part of four months.

The Springboks are heading home now after finishing the Rugby Championship on Saturday, but are soon set to head to France for an end-of-year tour preparation camp, as well as promotional media events for the 2023 Rugby World Cup

On the UK tour, the Boks are set to face Wales on 6 November, Scotland seven days later and England on 20 November and would have had to isolate for 10 days on arrival if they had travelled directly as South Africa is on the British government’s ‘red list’ of countries.

However, it’s hoped that South Africa will soon be removed from the ‘red list’, and that could lift the restrictions on SA players who have been subjected to such extended periods restricted to their hotels, an inordinate amount of Covid-19 tests, and very limited movement.

According to information also reported by Rapport, SA Rugby is determined to ensure players are not subjected to another strict bio-bubble environment.

It is hoped that a solution can be found with the British government, but SA Rugby president Mark Alexander was emphatic when stating that players could not be put through another set of strict restrictions.

“Another strict bio-bubble is out of the question, it will break the players,” Alexander told Die Burger.

After Saturday’s game against the All Blacks, Duane Vermeulen also provided a detailed account of what the players had been through.

“You have the public and the media that have their opinion on what we do on tour and the things we go through, but if you are not here you don’t really understand what we are going through. It’s difficult. People say it is your job and whatever, and we don’t listen to the public’s opinion, but it’s not as easy as people think.

“You are away from home, away from your families, you don’t see your kids. There are a lot of guys that have children and you don’t spend time with them and that is vital to your mental state and where you are as a person and as a player. It’s a difficult thing being away from home and we had our challenges with the team.

“Our first two weeks we were in hard lockdown, we couldn’t do anything. We had no support in the hotel. You had to do all the things on your own, make your bed, clean your room and it’s a whole different set-up. And then once you are out of quarantine it’s a whole different thing as well. You have got to keep on adjusting to what is thrown at us and sometimes it is difficult and we miss it a bit. But at the end, we got it all together and walk away with a win at the end of our tour.

“It’s good vibes and good energy now and hopefully we can take that positive energy going into the end-of-year tour. We only have two weeks off back home and then we go on another five or six-week tour. It’s difficult, it’s a whole different set-up and with Covid, it makes it more difficult but the team is in a good mental state at the moment and hopefully we can take that going into the end of the year.”

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Craig Lewis