Cardiff and the Scarlets are planning to return to Wales at the earliest opportunity after South Africa was added to the UK Government’s travel red list.
he two clubs were set to take part in the United Rugby Championship in South Africa this weekend, with the Scarlets facing the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, and Cardiff playing the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday.
However, after UK officials warned of a new variant of the virus, both clubs issued short statements overnight stressing they are working on returning to the UK as soon as possible.
Cardiff said they are “looking to repatriate our staff ASAP”, adding that “our focus is to ensure the safety and welfare of our people”.
Scarlets said: “Following the news of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa, Scarlets would like to assure families and friends that we are making every effort to get our touring party back home to the UK as soon as possible.”
Irish province Munster and Italian club Zebre Parma are also in South Africa ahead of fixtures against the Bulls and Stormers respectively,
UK officials warned on Thursday night that the new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 has the potential to evade immunity built up by vaccination or prior infection.
Sajid Javid, the UK Health Secretary, said that flights to England from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday Friday and all six countries will be added to the red list.
The Joburg Open golf tournament, part of the European Tour, is also ongoing in South Africa, so withdrawals could be expected there.