South Africa v Georgia cancelled, 17 days before the first Lions Test

South Africa’s test match against Georgia on Friday night has been cancelled because of Covid-19 infections in both camps.

Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and captain Siya Kolisi.
Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and captain Siya Kolisi.

The news, though not unexpected, is a further blow to the British and Irish Lions tour.

The Lions are due to play South Africa in Cape Town on July 24 in the first of three Test matches against the world champion Springboks.

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The tourists have already seen one of their fixtures fall by the wayside due to Covid; the match against the Bulls, scheduled for this Saturday in Pretoria, was postponed on Tuesday after four Bulls players and one member of their management team tested positive.

The Springboks v Georgia match, which should have been played in Johannesburg, was called off after a review by South Africa’s Medical Advisory Group (MAG).

The Springbok playing and management group returned 12 positive tests this week, while Georgia returned four.

South Africa is reeling from a third wave of infections in the country, raising more questions about the Lions tour.

“In the context of the loss of life and economic damage that Covid and this third wave are wreaking, the cancellation of a rugby match is pretty trivial,” said Jurie Roux, chief executive of SA Rugby.

“But it is still a major disappointment for the many stakeholders who have invested so much time, energy and resources into making these matches happen.

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“I especially feel for the fans and players, and for our visitors from Georgia who travelled here at relatively short notice to take on the series, which has now been cut short. We’ve not been able to interact with them because of the bio-secure environments, but I’d like to thank them publicly for their support.

“We continue to plan for the Springboks’ re-emergence from isolation and the completion of the Test series but in the short-term we wish a speedy recovery for those who have been infected.”

The enlarged Springbok squad’s travel plans are now being reviewed to comply with Covid-19 protocols.

A South Africa ‘A’ team is scheduled to play the Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday, July 14.

The Lions will play the Sharks this evening in Johannesburg in the second match of the tour. They won the opener, defeating the Sigma Lions 56-14 at the weekend.

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