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Munster, Cardiff forced to stay behind in SA after player tests positive

By Ian Cameron
Munster will stay in South Africa /Getty

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Munster’s and Cardiff’s bids to return to Europe amid the chaos around a new Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has hit a significant snag.

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The twos clubs were set to meet up with the Scarlets and Zebre and fly home via a charter flight out of Cape Town, but have now decided to stay behind and go into isolation after players from both sides tested positive for Covid-19.

With the teams being forced into hotel isolation, it could be several days before they are cleared to return. The two other teams were set to fly out of Cape Town on a charter flight today [Sunday, 28] at 12 midday and are set to land in Dublin tonight.

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A statement from Munster reads: “This morning Munster Rugby were making plans to join their fellow URC sides in departing Cape Town for Dublin by charter.

“After arriving at their hotel in Cape Town late last night the squad underwent a round of PCR testing ahead of today’s possible departure.

“The returning results have identified one positive case.

“In taking all precautions and prioritising the health and wellbeing of everyone Munster Rugby will not travel today and will return to their hotel for an isolation period as a matter of priority.

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“The province will await further guidance from the health authorities.”

Cardiff later said they have also been unable to depart following two positive cases, one of which is suspected to be the new variant Omicron.

The Welsh club said in a statement: “As a consequence of one of these results suspected of being Omicron, the entire travelling party have returned to their hotel to isolate.

“Cardiff Rugby continue to work with the South African Rugby Union, the Welsh Rugby Union and public health authorities both at home and abroad to decide the next course of action.

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“The club are also continuing to work with all relevant authorities to secure the travelling party’s return to Wales when safe and appropriate.”

With next weekend’s Round 7 set of games on South African soil also cancelled, Munster and Cardiff won’t take the field again until the Heineken Champions Cup kicks off in the second week of December.

South African sport is facing a sudden shutdown due to the detection of the new coronavirus variant with rugby teams scrambling to leave the country.

Scarlets had revealed they were initially not cleared to fly on Friday.

“Together with our colleagues at Cardiff Rugby, we had hoped to fly out of South Africa on Friday – following the postponement of our United Rugby Championship matches against Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls – but unfortunately we have been unable to gain clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority due to the closure of borders in both the UK and European Union.”

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