The match between the British & Irish Lions and the Bulls could be rescheduled following a number of positive Covid-19 cases in the Bulls camp, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
On Tuesday, Pretoria-based journalist Brenden Nel on SuperSport.com broke the news that several Bulls players and a member of the team’s management returned positive tests on Monday evening just as the team was about to enter its bio-secure bubble for Saturday’s match at Loftus Versfeld.
The match against the Bulls was set to be the B&I Lions’ third-last game before the first Test against the Springboks in Cape Town on 24 July.
The Lions face the Sharks in Durban on Wednesday and, following the Bulls match, will face SA A and the Stormers in Cape Town.
A real concern with the outbreak in the Bulls camp is the long-term ramifications of playing against the touring Lions at a time when the possibility persists that there could be more players infected.
This comes soon after the Springboks had to suspend training and go into isolation on Monday after lock Lood de Jager tested positive for Covid-19.
It’s believed that there are positive cases in the Georgia camp as well, and Friday’s second Test is now very much in doubt.
This website has independently verified that the possibility currently being explored is that the Bulls-Lions match will be rescheduled, with a final decision from SA Rugby likely to be made on Tuesday night.
If a decision is taken to move the match to another date, it will be interesting to see where they might be able to fit it into the schedule.
The Lions are said to have been looking at a number of contingency options in the event that their game against the Bulls was called off.
“We haven’t had anything confirmed,” assistant coach Steve Tandy stated earlier on Tuesday. “We will travel down to Cape Town over the weekend so we would probably give an extra day off, potentially maybe train a little bit harder on the Friday, but again that would be something that we would firm up when we get confirmation around what will happen.
“There has nothing been confirmed. It hasn’t affected the mood in the camp. The boys trained well this morning [Tuesday] and it’s just about gearing up for tomorrow night [against the Sharks]. The focus is on us getting better and improving and building on the last couple of performances. There are a couple of more people making their debuts for the Lions, so it’s exciting times.”
At present, the Lions are due to move from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Sunday before returning to the Highveld for the final two Test matches on 31 July and 7 August.
However, there could be a very good chance now that the tourists will simply remain in Cape Town for the remainder of the tour.
The planned 2021 Lions series looks like this:
- Saturday 3 July: Emirates Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)
- Wednesday 7 July: Cell C Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 20h00 (SAT) / 19h00 (BST)
- Saturday 10 July: Vodacom Bulls v The British & Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)
- Wednesday 14 July: South Africa ‘A’ v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 20h00 (SAT) / 19h00 (BST)
- Saturday 17 July: DHL Stormers v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)
- Saturday 24 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (1st Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)
- Saturday 31 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (2nd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)
- Saturday 7 Aug: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (3rd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)