Two British and Irish Lions players self-isolating in South Africa

Two players are among those isolating after a member of the British and Irish Lions management team in South Africa tested positive for coronavirus.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 3:20 pm

The Lions said that the individual and four close contacts, including two players and two members of staff, are being isolated and assessed at the team hotel.

The positive result came following a lateral flow test as part of the Lions’ tour screening programme on Wednesday.

All members of the touring party have since been PCR-tested.

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Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach, looks on during the British and Irish Lions captain's run at Emirates Airline Park on July 06, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images).

The latest developments are a huge setback to the tour’s prospects. The Lions are due to face South Africa in a three-Test series, starting on July 24.

In a statement, the Lions added that Wednesday’s game against the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg will go ahead “provided the subsequent round of PCR testing returns negative results later this afternoon”.

The statement added: “Should this be the case, the kick-off time for tonight’s game will be adjusted to 8pm (local time), 7pm (BST).”

The Springboks’ scheduled warm-up Test against Georgia on Friday, meanwhile, has been cancelled because of Covid-19 infections in both camps, SA Rugby has announced.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley said: “We have followed all necessary precautions since the start of the tour, which included regular testing and rigorous Covid-19 counter-measure planning and protocols.

“Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of the entire touring party, which is why we quickly isolated the players and staff upon receiving the news of the positive result.

“Everyone has subsequently been lateral flow and PCR-tested. The medical advisory group await the results of the PCR testing in order to make a decision on tonight’s game.

“The five individuals affected will be monitored closely during isolation and receive the best possible medical attention as we await the results of their PCR tests.

“Further updates will follow in due course.”

While the Lions’ game against the Sharks is currently still going ahead, the tour has entered a critical phase.

Coronavirus is threatening to cause havoc to the schedule and doubts will now resurface over the wisdom of pressing ahead with the event.

South Africa is battling against a spiralling crisis that has resulted in a hard lockdown which includes a curfew, alcohol ban, travel restrictions and school closures.