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Scarlets and Cardiff want to return from SA 'ASAP' as URC hit by variant fears

By PA
(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

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The Scarlets and Cardiff are planning to return to Wales at the earliest opportunity after South Africa was added to the UK Government’s travel red list.

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The United Rugby Championship is scheduled to stage its first fixtures on South African soil this weekend, with the Scarlets set to face the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, while fellow Welsh region Cardiff have an appointment with the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday.

A statement from Scarlets reads: “Following the news of a new Covid variant in South Africa, Scarlets would like to assure families and friends that we are making every effort to get our touring party back home to the UK as soon as possible. We will provide further updates as soon as we can.”

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Cardiff have also stated their desire to get home:”With the situation in South Africa having changed so quickly, we are now looking to repatriate our staff ASAP. For concerned families and friends, please rest assured that our focus is to ensure the safety and welfare of our people and will keep you updated with any developments.”

Irish province Munster and Italian club Zebre Parma are also in South Africa ahead of fixtures against the Bulls and Stormers respectively, and all four sides are due to play a second round of matches in the country next weekend.

UK officials sounded the alarm on Thursday night over a new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 which some fear has the potential to evade immunity built up by vaccination or prior infection.

Sajid Javid, the UK Health Secretary, said that flights to England from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday Friday and all six countries will be added to the red list.

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It is not yet clear how Munster and Zebre will react to the developments.

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