Barbarians match called off 90 minutes before kick-off due to Covid cases

Saturday’s match between the Barbarian men’s team and Samoa at Twickenham has been cancelled just 90 minutes before kick-off due to coronavirus cases among the invitational side.

A statement released by the Rugby Football Union revealed four Barbarians players and two members of staff had tested positive for Covid-19. The newly vacant 2.30pm kick-off time – and a broadcast slot on BBC One – will now be taken by the clash between Barbarian Women and a Springbok XV, which was due to start at 5.15pm.

“Due to six confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Barbarians men’s team, the Professional Game Testing Oversight Group has advised that the fixture scheduled to be played against Samoa today is unable to proceed,” the RFU statement said.

“We appreciate that this is an extremely disappointing situation for the many fans due to attend, but the safety of all members of both teams is our priority … a full automatic refund will be made to all ticket holders, however fans are encouraged to attend the [match between] Barbarian Women and Springbok Women’s XV.”

The Glasgow and Scotland back-row Ryan Wilson had been due to captain a side that also featured South African World Cup winners Duane Vermeulen, Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff as well as the Australia internationals James O’Connor and Nic White.

The qualifying event for the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup taking place in Zimbabwe has been abandoned due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus in South Africa.

Ireland had been playing in the event in the hope of securing one of the final three places for next year’s showpiece in New Zealand but will now miss out. Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies join the hosts, Australia, Inghilterra, South Africa and India in the finals by virtue of their place in the ODI rankings.

“We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the remainder of this event but with travel restrictions from a number of African countries being imposed at such short notice, there was a serious risk that teams would be unable to return home,” said the International Cricket Council’s head of events, Chris Tetley.

While Ireland have missed out on the chance to qualify, they will be included in the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship along with Sri Lanka, providing an extra opportunity to qualify for the next World Cup after the 2022 edition.

Concerns about the new variant of coronavirus in southern Africa have led to a number of sporting events being called off. South Africa’s three-match men’s ODI series against the Netherlands has been called off “as a result of mounting anxiety and concern” from the touring side, Cricket South Africa has reported.

In rugby union, Cardiff, Scarlets and Munster are all working to get their travelling squads back to the UK and Ireland after their United Rugby Championship games against South African opponents were postponed. Golf’s DP World Tour has reduced this week’s Joburg Open to a 54-hole event after a number of players withdrew.

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