Munster’s touring party have yet to leave South Africa after the discovery of a new Covid-19 strain in the country, but they are working “tirelessly” on plans to get back to Ireland.
The United Rugby Championship announced the postponement of the next two rounds of games set to take place in South Africa, after a new strain of Covid-19, which has ‘deeply concerned” experts, emerged in the country.
The UK announced on Thursday night that South Africa and several other southern African nations had been placed on their red list of travel, which prompted Welsh sides Cardiff and the Scarlets to attempt to triune home as soon as possible.
People travelling to Ireland must get a pre-flight PCR test and quarantine at home for 10 days if they return home from South Africa and six other countries in the region, regardless of vaccination status.
The Munster touring party, which includes 34 players and 14 staff, are currently remaining in their hotel and awaiting further developments.
? Update from South Africa | The work continues on getting the touring party back to Ireland.
We’re after a really good training week in Pretoria & everyone is in good form as we remain at our hotel.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) November 27, 2021
Munster issue an update on their situation in South Africa.
Munster Rugby’s head of medical Dr. Jamie Kearns said that the touring party remain in good spirits.
“We were really looking forward to this URC encounter especially given Johann’s relationship with the club. Overall, the week has gone smoothly with everyone in high spirits.
“We are disappointed not to be playing today, but we are all too aware of the ever-changing world of Covid-19 and the danger it represents, and our priority is the health and wellbeing of the group.
“After receiving negative PCR test results, we continue to follow Covid protocols, restrict our movements and remain within our bubble as the work continues in the background on getting the touring party back to Ireland.”
Cardiff, Scarlets and Zebre – all of whom were also set to play two matches in South Africa – have also yet to leave the country due to complications with travel.
After working through the night and all day with close collaboration @scarlets_rugby @Cardiff_Rugby @URCOfficial and @WelshRugbyUnion plus others we have not yet been able to finalise details for a departure from South Africa due to the changing landscape
— Simon Muderack (@swmuderack) November 26, 2021
Concerns for European fixtures.
There are concerns over whether each team’s upcoming fixtures in the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge will be able to proceed, with the first round of European action set to kick off in two weeks.
Munster’s touring party will have to quarantine for 10 days, which at the very least, would significantly impact their preparations for their opening Champions Cup pool game against Wasps on Sunday, December 12th.
The URC have said all games due to be played in South Africa over the next two weekends will be rescheduled, but dates have yet to be confirmed.