BREAKING: Fresh news out of South Africa may be a blessing in disguise, as a re-scheduled United Rugby Championship offers two South African derby matches as a resolution for the disrupted 2021/22 competition.
As reported widely from Friday, November 26, the outbreak of a new variant of Covid-19 named OMICRON meant Round Six fixtures on the continent were hurriedly abandoned. For some, it was too kneejerk even while Government and Immigration advice saw several teams depart South Africa to avoid arrivals deadlines in Europe.
In the wake of the Round 6 matches that were postponed last week due to the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19, it was decided to move two local derbies forward. Fixtures originally scheduled for February 2022 have been brought forward and played in place of Round Seven games. The re-scheduled games will be played in Durban and Cape Town this weekend.
SA Derbies added to this weekend’s schedule 💥
Full statement ⬇️#URC
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) November 29, 2021
Meanwhile, in the Northern hemisphere, teams unaffected by the Covid-19 disruption look likely to play those out as normal:
Round Seven: Edinburgh v Benetton | Leinster v Connacht | Ospreys v Ulster | Glasgow Warriors v Dragons.
Re-scheduled United Rugby Championship offers African derby resolution
While certainly a short-term resolution, it will in no way correct the medical and health concerns that surround all four home conference sides. While in the country itself is not primarily a threat to each and every resident, the ‘shroud of Omicron’ has isolated the Southern African continent – meaning teams cannot return to Europe without impacting quarantine that can only continue to necessitate further re-scheduling of the 2021/22 United Rugby Championship.
That impacted two traveling URC sides; Cardiff and Munster. With positive cases within the group, players are isolating and are hoping that more crisis-planning from each hemisphere can see those players return home for Christmas. not least, to be available for Heineken Champions and Challenge Cup fixtures.
The hastily arranged United Rugby Championship South African derby resolution is temporary at best. It will help four sides to maintain their conditioning, while adding vital competition points – recalling that Round Six postponed games must still be played (at some stage).
📰 Squad Update | Latest from #MunsterInSA 🇿🇦 & the HPC.
Thanks for all the support 🚩#SUAF 🔴
More Info ⤵
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) November 29, 2021
Few, if any, rugby fans would wish this on any opposition. UCR issued a media release to that end. ‘This has been an incredibly challenging period for everyone involved, most notably the players, staff, and their families [of the two affected European clubs]. The URC would like to acknowledge the outstanding support and on-ground assistance our teams have received from SA Rugby and also thank Governments and health authorities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Italy for their understanding in a period of great uncertainty’.
It shows how rugbyunited the organization can be, and Last Word on Rugby hope that remedies can continue to aid in re-scheduling this competition so it offers stakeholders match-time, but does not add to any cluttered calendar. Help out for sure but, just don’t make a headache further down the track when sides may feel the pressure around the New Year/Six Nations months.
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