3 Springboks positive for virus as Lions tour begins

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) – Three members of the Springboks team have tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the world champions to cancel a training session and put all of their players in isolation at the camp of the ‘team in Johannesburg, the national body SA Rugby said on Sunday.

The news came a day before the British and Irish Lions arrived in South Africa for a six-week, eight-game tour. The Lions tour coincides with an increase in cases of the virus in South Africa, which is now in the midst of a third wave and records nearly 20,000 new infections a day.

The three South African players, who have not been identified, tested positive on Saturday when the team met in Johannesburg after a training camp in the central town of Bloemfontein, SA Rugby reported. The entire team of nearly 50 players is now isolated and specialist medical advice is sought, SA Rugby added.

“A decision on other team activities will be taken shortly,” he said.

The Springboks face Georgia in the first of two warm-ups on Friday before the Boks’ three-test series against the Lions. It is not known if this game against Georgia in Pretoria can be played out in just five days. It was to be South Africa‘s first test since winning the Rugby World Cup final in Japan in November 2019.

South Africa’s schedule was shattered by the pandemic last year.

The British and Irish Lions are expected to arrive on Monday and start their tour against the South African Lions national team at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

South Africa and the British and Irish Lions have decided to continue the tour, which takes place once every 12 years for South Africa, despite fears over the pandemic. To mitigate the risk, the Lions have changed their schedule and will be based in only two cities; Johannesburg and Cape Town. They will spend the first two weeks in Johannesburg.

However, Johannesburg and the surrounding province of Gauteng are the center of the new wave of infections and are hit hard, with Gauteng recording more than 11,000 of the 17,958 new cases in South Africa on Saturday.

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