British and Irish Lions to play the Sharks - again

The British and Irish Lions are to play the Cell C Sharks again on Saturday.

The Lions beat the Sharks 54-7 on Wednesday and the sides will meet against on Saturday. Picture: Steve Haag/PA Wire
The Lions beat the Sharks 54-7 on Wednesday and the sides will meet against on Saturday. Picture: Steve Haag/PA Wire

Warren Gatland’s side beat the Sharks 54-7 in a one-side match in Johannesburg on Wednesday night and the sides will meet again at the weekend.

The game has been hastily arranged after the Lions’ scheduled fixture against the Bulls on Saturday was called off due to a Covid outbreak in the latter’s squad.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Lions have also been hit by Covid – a player and a member of the management team both tested positive on Wednesday – but they were able to fulfil the fixture against the Sharks, albeit with some last-minute team changes after a number of players were forced to isolate as close contacts.

Coronavirus is threatening to bring the tour to a premature end, with the Springboks’ entire squad isolating for the second time after 12 positive tests were returned from players and management, including head coach Jacques Nienaber.

However, Lions head coach Gatland is adamant the Test series will still go ahead and the second match against the Sharks will be used as preparation.

The game will be played at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday (kick-off 5pm BST).

“The choice of the Cell C Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout and were prepared to take on the fixture,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now – without going into a five-day lockdown. It is not an ideal situation, but Covid-19 has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world.”

The change has meant that the Sharks’ match against the Sigma Lions in the Carling Currie Cup on Saturday has been cancelled with a decision on the points allocation to be confirmed.

“We’re very grateful to the Sharks for agreeing to play us again this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld,” said Ben Calveley, managing director for the British and Irish Lions.

“We have further Covid-19 testing scheduled for today and tomorrow. The results of those tests will determine whether we will be able fulfil this fixture, but, as it stands, we are optimistic.

“We remain committed to the tour in South Africa and determined to rise to the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The three-Test series is due to kick off on July 24 in Cape Town, with the second and third Tests scheduled for Johannesburg on the following two Saturdays.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.