- The Super Rugby Unlocked match between the Sharks and Stormers has been cancelled.
- This comes after a Covid-19 outbreak amongst the Sharks’ group of tighthead props.
- It looks like the Bulls v Pumas match in Pretoria could go ahead.
Super Rugby Unlocked is set to end with a whimper after SA Rugby on Tuesday announced that the highly-anticipated coastal battle between the Sharks and Stormers has been called off due to Covid-19 protocols.
The decision was taken after this week’s round of mandatory testing revealed an outbreak among the Durbanites’ group of tighthead props.
This latest disruption means at least three fixtures have been affected to date, with the Lions’ matches against the Cheetahs and Pumas both being postponed.
The situation at Kings Park has prompted Jurie Roux, SA Rugby’s chief, to issue a stern advisory to franchises to continue adhering to health and safety protocols.
“Players and management are urged to employ extreme caution in their social engagement,” he said in a statement.
“It only takes one careless interaction by a single player to have the knock-on effect that impacts on 45 other players, team managements, the schedule and potentially the destination of the title.
“As fit young athletes it may be tempting to think that they are ‘immune’ to infection and are free of comorbidities that make them vulnerable. But a positive test for one of them can have massive repercussions.”I trust that team managements will underline that message on a daily basis to their playing personnel.”
Roux’s point on the knock-on effects is ironic given that there were concerns that the Sharks and Stormers would be able to overtake the Bulls on the log at the end of the weekend given the uncertainty over their meeting with the Pumas at Loftus.
But it seems now that there’s a distinct possibility of Jake White’s men being afforded an opportunity to end a successful Unlocked campaign on a high note.
The match against the Lowvelders has now been provisionally shifted to Saturday, provided the Pumas – who have seven players in quarantine until Thursday – deliver no positive tests on Thursday.
Shifting the game a day later would allow them to have at least one training session.