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Reds relief as majority of Munster squad fly home – but 14 remain in South Africa

Munster Academy manager Ian Costello is currently overseeing training in Limerick for the players who didn't travel to South Africa. Photo: Sportsfile

Munster Academy manager Ian Costello is currently overseeing training in Limerick for the players who didn't travel to South Africa. Photo: Sportsfile

Cian Tracey

Munster have confirmed that 34 players and staff departed South Africa last night, but 14 members of the wider group have remained in the country in order to see out their isolation period.

The squad have now left Cape Town and are expected to arrive in Dublin this evening. Upon arrival, all 34 individuals will be required to undertake 10 days isolation at what Munster have said will be “their own locations.” Another four positive cases were identified in yesterday’s latest round of PCR testing, thus bringing the total number to 14 people who must stay behind at the designated quarantine hotel in Cape Town. Munster have said that necessary support will be provided to those forced to remain in South Africa, in what is sure to be a very difficult situation for everyone concerned. The province will hope that if the flight arrives in Dublin on schedule, their players will be able to complete the isolation period in time for next week’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against Wasps. However, it remains to be seen how that scenario will play out, with the initial priority on ensuring Munster got as many of its squad out of South Africa last night as possible. The members of the Munster squad who that did not travel are currently training in Limerick under Academy manager Ian Costello. The Irish Independent understands that more than 23 players have been involved in Munster training at the province’s high-performance centre in Limerick over recent days. A statement from Munster last night read: “In a hugely positive development the wider Munster Rugby touring party departed Cape Town tonight after a group of 34 players and staff received negative results on completing a fourth round of PCR testing in six days. “Team management worked tirelessly on securing scheduled flights at short notice and the group are expected to land in Dublin on Wednesday evening. “Another four positive cases were identified in Tuesday’s round of PCR testing and a total group of 14 will see out their respective isolation periods at the designated quarantine hotel in Cape Town. “This is a difficult time for all players and staff involved and we are very mindful of their well-being and the understandable concern from family and friends at home. The group will be well looked after with team liaisons Warren Morris and Kubaan Lorens remaining on site with medical support provided daily. “As outlined by the government earlier this week, on arrival from South Africa the returning players and staff will follow mandatory self-isolation at their own locations. “Munster Rugby would like to say a huge thank you to the management and staff at Southern Sun The Cullinan Hotel for all their help and efforts over the last few days, especially at a time when last-minute support and requirements were needed for a large group. “The contribution Warren and Kubaan made during this time cannot be overstated and we are indebted to the duo for their professionalism and support.” “Again, we wish to take this opportunity to thank the Irish government, the IRFU, South Africa Rugby, URC, and the health authorities for their assistance in particular with regards to facilitating the safe return of our staff and players.”

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