The Scotstoun club announced earlier this week that the number of players affected had reached the teens and the situation is understood to have deteriorated. Glasgow were due to play the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon. Ulster’s URC match against the Cell C Sharks in Durban has called off for similar reasons. The Lions faced Ulster last weekend while Glasgow took on the Sharks.
The URC initially announced the news as “postponements” and said it would “examine potential dates to reschedule the games”. However, in an amended statement issued three and a half hours later the word “postponements” had been removed and the league said it would look to “possibly reschedule the games”.
Given the congested calendar and the distances involved, postponements are a tricky business for a league which spans six countries across two continents. The URC’s full amended statement said: “The Round 6 BKT United Rugby Championship fixtures involving Glasgow Warriors, Ulster Rugby, Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions will not take place this weekend. Due to gastroenteritis infections it is not possible for Ulster or Glasgow Warriors to field full playing squads. In order to ensure a duty of care towards the players involved and given the medical advice received from all key stakeholders, the BKT URC has made the decision not to go ahead with these fixtures. The league will now move to examine potential dates to possibly reschedule the games and will update in due course.”
Since South African clubs joined in 2021 to form the URC, Scottish clubs have played away double-headers against the former Super Rugby franchises to cut down on travel and costs. Glasgow played the Sharks in Durban last Saturday and were due to go to Johannesburg this weekend. If the game is rescheduled, a date during an international window might be possible. Alternatively, a free date might present itself later in the season if both Glasgow and the Lions fail to progress to the latter stages of the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Glasgow’s trip to South Africa has not been a particularly happy one. Franco Smith, their head coach, was unable to travel because his work permit had not been processed in time. Nigel Carolan, one of the assistant coaches, took charge for the match against the Sharks which Glasgow lost 40-12. The squad had already been affected by the stomach bug by that point, with both Matt Fagerson and Sebastian Cancelliere forced to withdraw from the squad before the game.
The Warriors then suffered a raft of injuries, with Tom Jordan, Fraser Brown, George Horne and Richie Gray all leaving the field in Durban with head injuries. Thomas Gordon, the flanker, tore a calf muscle and centre Sam Johnson sustained a broken jaw and is expected to be out for two to three months.
A statement released by Glasgow Warriors said: “Tomorrow afternoon’s BKT United Rugby Championship Round Six fixture between Glasgow Warriors and Emirates Lions has been postponed. Due to the ongoing impact of gastroenteritis infections within the playing squad, it will not be possible for Glasgow Warriors to field a full playing squad for the match in Johannesburg.
“In order to ensure a duty of care towards the players involved and given the medical advice received from all key stakeholders, the United Rugby Championship has made the decision to postpone the fixture. The league will now move to examine potential dates to reschedule the games and will update in due course. Ulster’s meeting with the Cell C Sharks in Durban has also been postponed as a result of gastroenteritis infections.
“Glasgow Warriors will now begin their preparations to return home ahead of next weekend’s home fixture with Benetton at Scotstoun, which takes place on Friday 28 October (kick-off 7.35pm).”