The British & Irish Lions’ tour match against Vodacom Bulls has been postponed because of a coronavirus outbreak in the South African side’s ranks.
The Lions were due to face the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, but the match has been called off with a view to either rescheduling or finding an alternative opponent. Four Bulls players and one member of management staff tested positive for the virus, while a number of other squad members have been deemed close contacts, making it impossible for the franchise to safely field a side.
The Lions began their tour with victory over the Sigma Lions in Johannesburg last weekend and Wednesday’s meeting with the Cell C Sharks at the same venue will go ahead as planned.
The First Test against South Africa is due to take place in Cape Town on July 24, but the Springboks’ preparations have also been hit by Covid, with their match against Georgia on Friday currently in serious doubt.
The South Africa squad was forced into isolation on Monday after Sale lock Lood de Jager tested positive and a further four players - Marvin Orie, Frans Steyn, Handre Pollard and Frans Malherbe - have now done likewise.
Four Georgia players have also returned positive tests, along with South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber and five other members of management.
“These positive results are a setback and have underlined the danger of transmissibility of the delta variant,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“The Springboks’ second Test against Georgia is now in serious doubt, but we will wait for the Medical Advisory Group to consider the data and we will make the final decision tomorrow.
“The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series and we will continue to focus on that.”