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Cardiff 'will take some convincing' to make South African URC return - Dai Young

By Paul Smith
Dai Young has said that the experience in South Africa was one of the toughest in his career (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

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After being caught up in the world’s first Omicron outbreak while in Cape Town last month Cardiff boss Dai Young says his club will “take a bit of convincing” to return to South Africa.

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Some players and staff who tested positive spent almost a month in self-isolation in hotels in the Western Cape then London when the country was put on the UK’s red list.

Cardiff’s unplayed United Rugby Championship (URC) away fixtures against Lions and Stormers therefore need to be rescheduled and competition bosses have announced that recent postponed games will take place on the final two weekends of the Six Nations during March 2022.

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The URC statement adds: “More details about these fixtures will be confirmed after further discussions with key stakeholders involved are completed,” which will include the location of the games.

However, Cardiff director of rugby Young has made his club’s reluctance to return to South Africa abundantly clear to the BBC.

“We’ll take a bit of convincing to be quite honest,” he said. “The onus is on the URC to convince us that it’s the right thing to do.

“I know they’ve come out and made a statement that we’re [potentially] going back there, but first and foremost we’d need guarantees that if something did happen, we’d get out of there.

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“The British Government showed their hand and the Welsh Government showed their hand and we were pretty much stranded out there – it was very difficult for us to get out of the country.

“Once is probably bad luck, twice is a bit stupid really, isn’t it.”

The knock-on effects of the quarantine spell left Cardiff severely depleted for their subsequent Heineken Champions Cup round one and two matches against Toulouse and Harlequins.

With 32 players absent, a makeshift team of academy players, semi-professionals plus the handful of Wales internationals who had not made the trip to South Africa performed admirably in defeat.

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Scarlets also had URC matches postponed in South Africa, and their players and staff had to quarantine for ten days in a Belfast hotel.

Like Young, Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack is uncertain about travelling back to South Africa for matches in March.

“The thing that was missing from the URC announcement this week was clarity to where those games will actually be played,” Muderack told the BBC.

“There is a lot to work through and the memories of the challenge of travelling back from South Africa are very fresh in the mind.

“March does not seem that far away so we need to work through that. I can’t speculate one way or another, but a lot would need to change and a lot to be put in place for those fixtures to take place in South Africa.”

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