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Rugby-Springboks cancel team announcement as Georgia test in doubt

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa cancelled Tuesday's scheduled announcement of their team for the second test against Georgia as the game hung in the balance while the Springboks awaited COVID-19 test results.

Lock Lood de Jager tested positive on Monday, sending the squad into self-isolation because of contact with him and ending training ahead of Friday's test at Ellis Park.

There was no change on Tuesday, SA Rugby said.

"The team suspended their training programme for Monday and placed the squad in preventative isolation prior to further PCR testing and a review by the Medical Advisory Group," said a statement, cancelling Tuesday's team announcement.

"The entire team and management had PCR tests on Tuesday morning, and will remain in isolation until the results and subsequent recommendations are received from advisory group."

The second such incident in a week in the Springbok camp also casts questions over the British & Irish Lions' tour to South Africa, which comes as the country grapples with a severe third coronavirus wave.

There were three positive cases in the camp last week but Herschel Jantjies proved negative in a re-test and played as a substitute in Friday’s first test win for South Africa in Pretoria. The 40-9 victory was the Springboks' first match in 20 months since winning the 2019 World Cup.

Winger S’bu Nkosi and prop Vincent Koch, however, went into self isolation, as did World Cup heroes Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, who were expected to play against Georgia.

Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said last week he was confident about safety protocols to prevent more COVID-19 cases as the team moved into a secure bio-bubble, but Monday's case flew in the face of that.

South Africa hit a record of 26,000 daily COVID-19 cases at the weekend as its total death toll moved above 62,000.

Just over 5per cent of South Africans have been vaccinated - or 3.3 million people out of a population of just less than 60 million. It has recorded 2 million cases so far, although low testing rates in rural areas mean the real figure is probably higher, health experts say.

(Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: Reuters

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