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For 'bok sake Lions tour in question once more after three positive Covid tests in Springbok camp


South Africa’s preparations for the Lions series have been hit by positive coronavirus tests (Adam Davy/PA)

South Africa’s preparations for the Lions series have been hit by positive coronavirus tests (Adam Davy/PA)

South Africa’s preparations for the Lions series have been hit by positive coronavirus tests (Adam Davy/PA)

THE Lions tour is once again in doubt after the Springboks reported three positive Covid-19 cases and cancelled today's training session.

Warren Gatland's team are due to depart for Johannesburg later today. The city is at the epicentre of the third wave of the pandemic in South Africa, with the number of case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths going up on a daily basis.

The Sprinboks were set to welcome their overseas players back into camp this weekend, but the mandatory PCR tests at the team's base returned three positives.

The three players have been identified as Vincent Koch, Sbu Nkosi and Herschel Jantjies.

The world champions are due to face Georgia in the first of two warm-up games on Friday night and are also based in Johannesburg.

SA Rugby's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus told a news conference that the entire squad are isolating and would also be rested tomorrow.

“I don’t think it’s a big cause for concern but we want to keep everybody as safe as possible,” he said.

“We have followed strict proposals and everyone is isolated at the moment.

“If they are positive it is a case of being unlucky, not anything that they might have done wrong.

“It is disruptive but it has happened to other rugby teams over the last months and we have enough players in our camp to go ahead with our matches. There is no threat to either the Tests against Georgia or the Lions tour."

The South African government are due to increase lockdown restrictions in the country later today. Both squads will have been vaccinated fully by the time the series takes place.

However, as the situation deteriorates the merits of hosting a major international sporting event will come under increased scrutiny.

The Lions are looking at contingencies to ensure the series can proceed and may look to move matches out of the Gauteng region to an area such as Cape Town where they are due to play their first Test.

On Saturday, Gatland said they have been ensured that even with the worsening picture the tour will go ahead.

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"We’ve had assurances from that. If they go into another lockdown and cancel sport, they've said it won’t affect the Lions in terms of training and the matches," he said.

SA Rugby Statement: Boks cancel Sunday training as a precautionary measure

The Springboks cancelled Sunday’s planned training session in Johannesburg as a precautionary measure when scheduled testing protocols returned three positive COVID-19 test results when the team assembled on Saturday.

Three players tested positive for the virus following stringent real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing procedures on arrival at the team base.

Team management immediately put the squad into self-isolation as a precaution until specialist medical advice is sought from the Castle Lager Lions Series Medical Advisory Group (MAG).

A decision on further team activities will be made shortly.

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus emphasised that the team had followed all the necessary precautions since the start of the three-week conditioning camp hosted in Bloemfontein, which included mandatory COVID-19 testing three times a week, and that they would be led by specialist advice before any action is taken.

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