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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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