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Cardiff flying home after fourth attempt to leave South Africa

By PA
Josh Turnbull /Getty Images

Cardiff are set to arrive back in the UK on Friday night after finally leaving South Africa.

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The travelling party of 42 was given the green light to leave Cape Town after returning negative PCR results on five consecutive days since South Africa was placed on the UK red list following the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

After arriving at Heathrow via Dublin, they will begin a 10-day quarantine in an approved hotel in London.

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It is the club’s fourth attempt to leave South Africa. Their planned departure on Thursday morning was foiled when their landing slot was withdrawn.

Six members of the playing and backroom staff who returned positive tests will remain in Cape Town.

A statement from the club said: “While we are grateful to confirm the departure of 42 players and staff today, attention now turns solely to the six who have been forced to stay in South Africa.

“They remain in good health and are receiving the best possible care and support necessary.

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“We hope to repatriate them to the UK as soon as possible and are also grateful to Rhondda MP Chris Bryant for raising their plight in Parliament.”

Cardiff are due to play defending champions Toulouse in the European Champions Cup at The Arms Park on Saturday week and intend to field a team comprised of academy players, reserves and Wales internationals who did not travel to South Africa.

European Professional Club Rugby has relaxed player registration rules in response to the plight of four sides who found themselves stranded in South Africa, but stressed that there are no spare weekends to accommodate postponements.

The majority of players and staff from Munster and Zebre have since returned to Ireland and Italy respectively to complete their periods of isolation but the Scarlets remain in a quarantine hotel just outside Belfast.

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