Six positive cases: Lions vs Cheetahs cancelled due to Covid-19
Inevitably, perhaps, Covid-19’s tentacles have enveloped the Lions’ squad to the point that their Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Cheetahs on Saturday afternoon had to be cancelled.
The game was called off in line with prescribed precautions advised by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to limit the risk of further infection in the rugby community, SA Rugby said in a statement.
The cancellation was triggered on Saturday morning following the receipt of results from a second batch of tests on Lions senior squad playing and coaching personnel, which revealed two further positive cases. The tests had been prompted by the recording of four other positive tests, making for six cases overall, among the same group earlier in the week.
The players who tested positive and identified close contacts are isolating and quarantining according to Department of Health guidelines. The players are in good health and are being monitored by the team doctor.
If the fixture cannot be rescheduled both teams will take two points.
“Containing the spread of the disease is a national imperative and this first impact on the rugby schedule is a stark reminder of how vigilant our community has to be and how rigorous we must be in following the rules,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby’s chief executive.
“Safety comes first, and although it is extremely disappointing for all concerned, it is a reminder to our teams and players of the role their actions will play in avoiding the risk of more cancellations.
“Despite having followed the advisory precautions and the plans that were approved by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), we will take this opportunity to review them and strengthen them if required.”
At the Lions’ team announcement earlier in the week coach Ivan van Rooyen was upbeat when asked what the tipping point would be for the cancellation of a match should the team have to isolate more players.
“We have 45 senior players. They are willing and able. We are also blessed with U21s, six of whom train with us permanently,” said Van Rooyen on Thursday.
The Lions now have six positive cases but it isn’t clear how many in their group have been asked to isolate. With players who are earmarked for isolation required to do so for 10 or more their next clash against Griquas on Friday is now also in doubt.