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URC announces two South African derbies this weekend after latest disruptions

By Josh Raisey
GALWAY, IRELAND: October 01: Jake White, head coach of the Vodacom Bulls, watching the team warm up before the Connacht V Vodacom Bulls, United Rugby Championship match at The Sportsground on October 1st, 2021 in Galway, Ireland. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

The United Rugby Championship has brought forward two South African derbies, originally scheduled for February 2022, in response to the cancellation of some round six and seven fixtures due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

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All South Africa-based fixtures were cancelled last weekend, which included the Lions versus Cardiff, the Stormers versus Zebre, the Sharks versus Scarlets and the Bulls versus Munster, while a further four this weekend were also postponed.

Instead, the Sharks, who were originally scheduled to host Zebre, will now play the Bulls, who were originally scheduled to face Scarlets, at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban on Friday night at 17:00 (UK time).

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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 following day, the Stormers, originally scheduled to face Cardiff, will host the Lions, originally scheduled to face Munster, at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town at 15:00 (UK time).

CEO of South Africa Rugby Jurie Roux said: “Our four teams have been hard at work and in conjunction with the tournament organisers, we’ve decided to bring forward two of the derbies originally scheduled for early in the new year.”

“Apart from providing our teams with much-needed game time, we are also trying to open up space in the calendar for a possible rescheduling of the matches that had been postponed this weekend.”

Meanwhile, both Munster and Cardiff have remained in South Africa following positive Covid-19 tests in their camps.

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Munster said in a statement: “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.”

Cardiff also 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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