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'How come the Lions' bubble is working?': Boks' bubble under scrutiny

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The news that 10 members of the Springboks camp have tested positive for Covid-19 has sent shockwaves through the rugby world, with doubt creeping over the remaining viability of the British & Irish Lions tour.


Four players, Marvin Orie, Frans Steyn, Handre Pollard and Frans Malherbe, plus six among management, including head coach Jacques Nienaber were among those who are now battling the virus.

The outbreak comes after lock Lood de Jager had already tested positive and begun isolating.

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Lions coach Steve Tandy

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Lions coach Steve Tandy

With the wider outbreak amongst the Springbok team, the certainty over whether the British & Irish Lions tour will be completed is up in the air. The Lions are due to play the Sharks on Thursday but Saturday’s fixture against the Bulls has been postponed.

Rugby media all over the world reacted to the news with a mix of shock, anger and disbelief. UK scribe Sam Peters wrote ‘this tour should never have happened’ and highlighted it as ‘another example of pro rugby putting profit over people’.

Controversial pundit Stephen Jones said the tour ‘seems ill-fated’, while Irish writer Ruaidhri O’Connor said he felt sorry for the players stuck in this situation for what should have been a career highlight.


With the outbreak among the Springboks comes scrutiny as to how this actually happened, with many questioning what exactly are the protocols around the Springboks bubble given they are at home.

With the Lions camp free of any cases, fans begun asking why the Lions’ bubble is working but the Springboks isn’t. Some fans online wanted an explanation into how the Springboks bubble works, and whether the players are vaccinated.


While the Springboks bubble has burst, the Blue Bulls franchise also has come apart with four cases of their own. Georgia, who played the Springboks on the weekend, also have cases within their squad.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux warned of the worsening situation in a statement and said everyone is awaiting more data. He said the integrity of the test series must be maintained as the priority.

“These positive results are a setback and have underlined the danger of transmissibility of the delta variant,” Roux said.

“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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Jon 1 hours ago
Buoyant England travel to New Zealand full of hope but are they walking into an All Blacks ambush?

> New head coach Scott Robertson has kept only forwards coach Jason Ryan and conditioning coach Nic Gill from the previous regime *and so there is little institutional knowledge inherent in the new team.* Shows you what the English know about sport. Isn’t just fantastic that the best rugby team, or brand, on the planet has three brothers playing together? One a bull, the other a dancer, and last a .. boxer? Looks like a boxer bless him. > But Robertson has been working to fix that issue, with senior players and coaches having been regularly meeting to work out how they will operate together both on and off the field to ensure there is strong decision-making and a deep understanding of how the team wants to play. Have they? I would suggest then it is not a case of fixing things, that is not what Razor does. Razor will evolve the relationship between player and coach into a more symbiotic relationship. This wont be a coach that shouts down at his players theyre not doing good enough. I can imagine one of the first key areas he will be implementing is the respective leadership for each coaching group. Tight five, Loosies, Halves, Centers, and Back Three, will each have their own leadership team and an agile approach to the playing group relaying what they believe is happening on the training paddock, and in games. It will be a very big step to get everyone involved, able, and thinking about contributing to that process, but I believe a very beneficial one if successful. > England may have their best chance to win in 21 years, but they may also be walking into an ambush – *about to be hit* by a young, gifted, supremely physical and athletic All Blacks team coached by a man who has made every post a winner so far in his career and has this uncanny knack of getting the best out of people. Or, by a group hurting from not getting over the line and proving to everyone they are the best in the world, full of experience and cohesion, grit and motivation. You only need to look at someone like Patrick Tuipulotu to see someone with a fire under his belly from missing out on the last RWC due to injury, and having lost to this opposition in the previous one. It will be very interesting to see how this ‘Razor’ plays it. Does he stick with the traditional and protect the time honored All Black values of commitment, or does he evolve and pick the best players to win the Rugby Championship - and by association this test series - like Akira Ioane?

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