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.
The 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.
Scarlets and Cardiff Blues are set to return from South Africa which has been added onto the UK’s travel red list
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 European Tour – now known as the DP World Tour – has just commenced a three-week swing of events in South Africa and there were numerous withdrawals from the Joburg Open.
Englishmen Oliver Fisher, Steven Brown, Richard McEvoy, Matthew Jordan, Andrew Wilson, Matt Ford and Graeme Storm, Scots Richie Ramsay, Liam Johnston and Craig Howie, Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin and Welshman Oliver Farr, all pulled out of the tournament before the second round commenced on Friday, along with Irish pair Niall Kearney and Paul Dunne.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said flights will be suspended from six countries will be suspended from midday on Fridau