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British and Irish Lions tour match postponed

By Liam Heagney

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The axe has fallen on the third match of the Lions tour in South Africa after officials decided on Tuesday evening to officially postpone next Saturday’s game versus the Bulls in Pretoria following a virus outbreak in the Bulls camp. Friday’s Springboks game versus Georgia has also been further jeopardised by an outbreak amongst the Eastern European team.   

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It was Tuesday morning when a report from South Africa revealed the outbreak amongst some players in Jake White’s Bulls squad and the Lions were unsure during their early afternoon media briefing what the eventual decision on the match – their fourth of 2021 and their third in the southern hemisphere – would be.  

That decision eventually arrived just before 7pm local time, a statement from the Lions reading: “The Lions match against the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday has been postponed with a view to rescheduling or to accommodate an alternative opponent, while the Springboks’ second Test against Georgia on Friday is also being reviewed.

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Warren Gatland discusses a potential Lions positional switch
Video Spacer
Warren Gatland discusses a potential Lions positional switch

“Four Bulls players and one member of management returned positive tests which, in combination with their close contacts, made it impossible for them to field a team according to series safety protocols. Series regulations make provision for additional midweek matches to be added in an agreement between the organisations.

“Meanwhile, four positive results among the Georgian team and four additional positive tests among Springbok players (Marvin Orie, Frans Steyn, Handre Pollard and Frans Malherbe) plus six among management, including head coach Jacques Nienaber, and one masseuse, have further complicated planning. The latest medical data from the Springbok and Georgian teams will be assessed by the medical advisory group (MAG) on Wednesday morning.”

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said: “These positive results are a setback and have underlined the danger of transmissibility of the delta variant. The Springboks’ second Test against Georgia is now in serious doubt, but we will wait for the MAG to consider the data and we will make the final decision tomorrow [Wednesday]. The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series and we will continue to focus on that.”

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A further update will be issued on potential alternative opponents for the Lions and on the Springboks’ second Test against Georgia as soon as the positions are finalised. Meanwhile, the Lions’ Wednesday evening game versus the Sharks in Johannesburg will take place as scheduled.

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British and Irish Lions tour match postponed

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