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LATEST: Rugby fans will have to wait longer for stadium return

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Cardiff and Scarlets have already confirmed they are planning to leave South Africa on the eve of the next round of the URC after concerns around a new coronavirus variant arose this week, and Munster and Zebre are believed to be doing the same.

This weekend’s URC fixtures across South Africa coincided with fans being allowed to return to stadiums, albeit in limited numbers of 2,000 attendees.

From Loftus to Ellis Park to Cape Town Stadium and Kings Park, the stadiums were expected to at least accommodate the full limit of allowed supporters, with the Bulls confirming their available tickets had been sold out in 10 minutes.

However, those plans are now set to be scuppered, with confirmation imminent that the four URC matches this weekend will be postponed.

Cardiff were set to play the Lions on Sunday in the United Rugby Championship, while Scarlets were scheduled to face the Sharks on Saturday. The other fixtures in South Africa were to be Stormers v Zebre and Bulls v Munster.

On Friday, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed six countries would be added to the red list, with new flight bans being put in place, while the EU has also imposed restrictions along with the likes of Japan and Israel.

No statement from SA Rugby as yet on URC

Any British or Irish resident arriving from the countries after 04:00 on Sunday will have to quarantine in a hotel, while anyone returning before that will be asked to isolate at home.

All flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini are being suspended.

Although there has yet to be a statement from SA Rugby or the URC organisers, Cardiff and Scarlets have already announced their intention to leave as soon as possible, and it’s now only a matter of time before it becomes official that this weekend’s fixtures will not go ahead as planned.

With the situation in South Africa having changed so quickly, we are now looking to repatriate our staff ASAP. For concerned families and friends, please rest assured that our focus is to ensure the safety and welfare of our people and will keep you updated with any developments.

— Cardiff Rugby (@Cardiff_Rugby) November 25, 2021

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. We will provide further updates as soon as we can.

— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) November 26, 2021

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