World champion Springboks cancel Georgia Test after Covid outbreak

·2-min read
Debutant South Africa wing Aphelele Fassi (R) scores the first try in a 40-9 victory over Georgia in Pretoria last weekend

World champions South Africa have called off a Test against Georgia scheduled for Friday in Johannesburg after a coronavirus outbreak in the camp, SA Rugby said on Wednesday.

The decision was anticipated after five players, head coach Jacques Nienaber, five other members of the management team and a masseuse contracted the virus this week.

"In the context of the loss of life and economic damage that Covid and this third wave are wreaking, the cancellation of a rugby match is pretty trivial," said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.

"But it is still a major disappointment for the many stakeholders who have invested so much time, energy and resources into making these matches happen.

"I especially feel for the fans and players, and for our visitors from Georgia, who travelled here at relatively short notice to take on the series, which has now been cut short."

Lock Lood de Jager tested positive on Monday and centre Francois Steyn, fly-half Handre Pollard, prop Frans Malherbe and another lock, Marvin Orie, on Tuesday.

The squad have been self isolating since Monday in a Johannesburg hotel after the second outbreak among the players with wing Sibusiso Nkosi and prop Vincent Koch testing positive earlier.

Georgia, who lost 40-9 last weekend in the first Test against the Springboks, have also been affected by Covid-19 with four players testing positive.

South Africa have been the major rugby nation hardest hit by the pandemic with the match against the Georgians in Pretoria last Friday their first since lifting the World Cup in November 2019.

The Springboks were due to play 13 home and away internationals last year, but they were all cancelled due to coronavirus.

Georgia were invited to South Africa so that the home team could get desperately needed international exposure before hosting a highly anticipated three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Although none of the British and Irish tourists have tested positive, they have not escaped the turmoil triggered by a third wave of the virus in South Africa.

Their match against the Bulls on Saturday has been postponed after four players and one official from the Pretoria franchise contracted the virus.

The central Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, has been battling to contain the virus amid reports of four patients sharing oxygen meant for one in some hospitals.

By late-Tuesday, there had been 2,090,909 recorded cases and 62,628 deaths in the African country most affected by coronavirus.

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