Rugby matinee hits the headlines as Lions turn into chaos, matches under threat and alcohol ban and curfew announced


Here are your headlines from the rugby morning on Monday June 28th.

You can follow all the reactions to the victory over Japan here.

South Africa at Alert Level 4 because alcohol is prohibited

The Lions have flown to South Africa with a razor-sharp tour amid worrying developments.

South Africa has entered coronavirus alert level 4, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday.

The Lions posed for photos in front of a British Airways plane at Edinburgh Airport on Sunday ahead of their flight to South Africa – which was delayed from 7 p.m. to 9:14 p.m. – but what awaits them is a country currently ravaged by Covid-19.

The country has recorded more than 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and has implemented a curfew between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

There will also be an alcohol ban for three weeks.

Travel inside and outside Gauteng, where the Lions play their first three games, is also prohibited for recreation.

All rules come into effect Monday morning.

Three Springboks players – scrum half Herschel Jantjies, mainstay Vincent Koch and winger S’bu Nkosi – have been reported to have tested positive for Covid-19, but coach Rassie Erasmus has attempted to dispel the fears the tour might be affected by rising coronavirus rates.

“I don’t think it’s a big worry, but we want everyone to be as safe as possible,” he said on Sunday.

“We have followed strict proposals and everyone is isolated for the moment.

“It’s disturbing but it’s happened to other rugby teams in the last few months and we have enough players in our camp to continue our games.”

Emergency plans emerge

As the Lions travel to Johannesburg ahead of their warm-up matches, contingency plans are starting to emerge to move matches away from the most infected areas of the country.

Warren Gatland’s team are playing their first three matches – and the last two Tests – in the Gauteng region of South Africa, hard hit by the Covid-19.

It is understood that one of the contingency plans examined behind the scenes potentially involves moving their games to Cape Town, where infection rates are significantly lower.

The Lions face their first opponents, the Emirates Lions, at Ellis Park on Saturday and it would go as planned. However, the report suggests that the warm-up matches thereafter could be moved to Cape Town.

The logistics to get there, however, seem incredibly difficult, especially given the time constraints.

Some of the matches before the Test Series may still have to be abandoned if the obstacles cannot be overcome.

Wales legend Phillips backs captain Murray’s choice

Wales and Lions legend Mike Phillips backed Warren Gatland’s choice to name Conor Murray as successor to Alun Wyn Jones as tour captain.

It was a devastating blow when Jones, along with his Welsh team-mate Justin Tipuric, were excluded from the tour after his injury against Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday.

But, in a sliding door moment for Murray, the Irish scrum-half was named skipper.

As always, there has been a difference of opinion on the nomination, but everything seems to be overwhelmingly positive.

And that’s certainly how Phillips sees it, taking to Twitter to say Murray is a wise choice for Gatland – but of course, he couldn’t resist a usual little dig while he was at it.

“Murray being chosen as captain is a great choice! Phillips said.

“A very nice guy and he’s a starter for sure. Poor Mike Phillips did well.”


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