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'You really do fear for this tour now' - Reactions as Lions rocked by positive test

By Ian Cameron

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Serious doubts are mounting this afternoon as to the continued viability of the British & Irish Lions tour after the touring side were rocked by a positive Covid-19 test in camp.

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It was all going so well, until it wasn’t.

The Lions have become the fourth team inside 48 hours to have a member of the camp test positive for the virus, following hot on the heels of the Bulls, the Springboks and the Georgians.

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Steve Tandy talks COVID and alternative options for cancelled games
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Steve Tandy talks COVID and alternative options for cancelled games

According to the Lions communications team a member of their management team, as yet undisclosed, has had four close contacts with the rest of the squad, including two players. The entire camp are to undergo PCR testing this afternoon, and any further positives will likely see tonight’s game against the Sharks canceled.

The news comes less than 24 hours after the Lions game against the Bulls was effectively cancelled due to positive tests in their camp.

It’s all, suddenly, heading downhill at a rate of knots and the fear is that the tour’s demise could be confirmed before a ball is kicked the Test matches.

RugbyPass’ Chris Jones’ Tweeted: “No fans, two outbreaks in the Springboks squad, now positives in the Lions camp; talk of everyone assembling in Cape Town to avoid Gauteng spike. The argument – dismissed all too quickly – for a year’s delay stronger than ever.”

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One journalist, the Daily Mail’s Will Kelleher, described it as ‘bedlam’.

The Daily Mirror’s Alex Spink noted: “Tonight’s game will still go ahead provided this afternoon’s tests come back negative… But you really do fear for this tour now.”

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Writer Darrel Bristow-Bovey struck a even handed note, writing: “Chaps, when something we all love – in this case, the Lions tour – is in jeopardy, there’s a natural desire to want to blame someone, usually our own authorities. But sometimes there’s no one to blame, and circumstances are just hard and unpredictable and people did their best.”

Rugby commentator Nick Heath wrote: “Given scenes in SA, I’m grateful to TalkSport for making the tough decision to no longer send us into what is clearly a challenging environment. Can’t wait to tell the Lions stories of those families, friends and fans supporting from all pockets of the UK as the tour unfolds.”

SA journalist Brendan Nel wrote: “Getting a lot of questions why #LionsTour wasn’t postponed a year. In a nutshell Australia and NZ didn’t want to give up tours by Ireland and England which they feel are money spinners. Eng and Ire coaches said it would hamper 2023 RWC preparation. So not SA’s call.”

One rugby fans posted, albeit before today’s news: “Wonder if the rugby unions who failed to find a way to agree a Lions tour in 2022 have dry mouths watching a packed Wembley and a brilliant tournament.”

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'You really do fear for this tour now' - Reactions as Lions rocked by positive test

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