(SATSports) – Rugby world champions the Springboks were cleared to resume training on Sunday in preparation for their three-match Test series against the British & Irish Lions following a COVID-19 outbreak within the camp.
SA Rugby made the announcement following six rounds of COVID-19 testing and a six-day self-isolation period allowing a large group of players to return to the field.
“All the players and management who had COVID-19 Tests on Saturday returned negative test results, which paved the way for the players to train on Sunday,” SA Rugby said.
However, six players and three members of team management returned positive tests after four rounds of PCR testing in the last week.
The six are: captain Siya Kolisi, Dan du Preez, Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni and Makazole Mapimpi.
More than 20 players and staff within the Springboks camp have now tested positive for COVID-19.
“With the entire squad and management team confined to their rooms since Monday, however, the possibility of transmission through close contact has been mitigated,” SA Rugby noted.
As a result, Cell C Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha and Vodacom Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka have been called up as covers.
SA Rugby Director of Rugby and World Cup winning coach Rassie Erasmus will take charge of training sessions as head coach Jacques Nienaber continues with his self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
Nienaber said the team was happy to be able to return to the field and resume its preparations for the series against the Lions.
“It has been a challenging week with the Test against Georgia cancelled and the entire squad self-isolating for a few days as a preventative measure, so the players cannot wait to get back on the park,” Nienaber said.
“It is also great to have Rassie steering the ship while I am away. He has been part of the system for several years now and he guided most of these players to the Rugby World Cup title in 2019, so the team is in great hands.”
The Springboks are scheduled to face the Lions on July 24 and 31 and August 7.