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OFF: URC round 6 and 7 matches in South Africa have been postponed

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Four European teams have made a wasted trip to South Africa this week after United Rugby Championship (URC) officials confirmed that the round six and seven matches set to be held in the southern hemisphere involving Cardiff, Munster, Scarlets and Zebre Parma against the local franchises have been postponed.   

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Everything was looking good at the start of this week for what would have been the first matches played in South Africa in the new URC tournament, four teams flying out from the UK, Ireland and Italy to take on the locals. However, sudden changes in the pandemic situation surrounding South Africa have now resulted in the cancellation of this weekend’s and next weekend’s matches in order to allow the teams that travelled to get home as quickly as possible. 

A URC statement on Friday read: “This weekend’s round six matches in South Africa have been postponed due to the emergence of a new variant of Covid-19 (B.1.1.529). Next week’s round seven matches have also been postponed due to the sudden developments that had placed South Africa on the UK and EU travel red list. The matches will be rescheduled for later this season.

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Guess the celebrity Rose | Karen Carney | England Rugby
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Guess the celebrity Rose | Karen Carney | England Rugby

“The safety and well-being of our participating clubs’ players, coaches, support staff and match officials is the foremost priority and the URC is currently working with the four visiting clubs – Cardiff, Munster Rugby, Scarlets and Zebre Parma – to facilitate their return as soon as possible.

“This decision is based upon the latest guidance against non-essential travel to and from South Africa, the ban on direct flights to the UK and other home destinations and the potential hotel quarantines enforced upon those returning from South Africa.

“As has been the operating practice throughout the pandemic, the URC will continue engaging with our medical advisory group, our union shareholders and respective governments to plan according to the latest health guidelines.

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“A period of assessment will now be required to better understand the impact of these new travel restrictions and how to reschedule these games within the current season. Given the nature and speed of these developments, URC will provide further updates at the appropriate time through official channels only.”

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