Rugby Australia’s hopes of participating in the Rugby Championship have been dealt a blow with six Argentine players testing positive to COVID-19 while in a training camp.
The six-week four nations tournament is set down for November-December, to be played in New Zealand, with Australia offering up back-up host locations.
Argentina were due to join Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, pending government travel restrictions.
But Argentina’s national rugby union announced on Saturday that six members of the Pumas squad had tested positive for COVID-19 and been immediately placed in isolation.
“After completing a new batch of PCR tests, in order to minimise the risk of contagion and be able to start the health bubble, the results yielded six positive cases of Covid-19 in the campus,” Los Pumas announced on Twitter on Saturday.
The Pumas said the players – Juan Cruz Mallía, Emiliano Boffelli, Bautista Delguy, Rodrigo Fernández Criado, Bautista Pedemonte and Lucas Bur – were all asymptomatic.
It comes after loose forward Javier Ortega Desio was unable to join the 46-man camp last week after also testing positive.
The positive cases are set to impact on the Pumas’ preparation, while South Africa has also been hit hard by the pandemic with the world champions also linked with move to play in Europe.
Southeast Queensland or NSW were the mooted locations, with a hub in Queensland the likely preferred option given the Wallabies and All Blacks are due to play opening Bledisloe Cup Tests there on October 10 and October 17.
Rugby Australia is desperate to play Test matchs in 2020 after suffering a massive financial hit with Super Rugby restricted to a domestic competition with limited crowds.
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