URC reschedules South African derbies following fixture postponements

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GALWAY, IRELAND: October 01: Dejected Bulls players at the final whistle, Ruan Combrinck #15 of Vodacom Bulls, Chris Smith #22 of Vodacom Bulls and Cornal Hendricks #14 of Vodacom Bulls during the Connacht V Vodacom Bulls, United Rugby Championship match at The Sportsground on October 1st, 2021 in Galway, Ireland. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Two South African derbies in the United Rugby Championship (URC) which were due to be played in February next year have been moved forward and will be played this weekend in Durban and Cape Town, the URC announced.

The URC said the decision was made following the postponements of Round 6 and 7 matches last week due to the emergence of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron.

FILE PHOTO: Vodacom Bulls players, Ruan Combrinck #15 of Vodacom Bulls, Chris Smith #22 of Vodacom Bulls and Cornal Hendricks #14 during a United Rugby Championship match against Connacht at The Sportsground on October 1st, 2021 in Galway, Ireland. /Getty Images

Consequently, Cell C Sharks will now host the Vodacom Bulls in Durban on Friday while the DHL Stormers will face the Emirates Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Irish side Munster, one of the two URC sides forced to remain in South Africa to due to the situation, will see some of their members extend their stay after the latest round of testing confirmed nine positive cases.

This raises the number of positive cases in the Irish side to 10 after one player had tested positive on Sunday. The nine individuals, who include staff and players, will will join the first player in a designated quarantine hotel in Cape Town.

“The ten members of the group who have tested positive will remain in Cape Town until the end of their isolation period. While the individuals were disappointed on receiving the news they are thankfully well and will continue to be monitored medically at this time,” Munster said in a statement.

Munster said the other 38 members all returned negative results and will continue to individually isolate in their rooms.

“As outlined by the Irish government on Monday, those that have received negative results have clearance to travel from the South African authorities,” the statement added.

“In taking every precaution the touring party have completed another round of PCR testing this (Tuesday) morning, the third in less than 60 hours, and will wait on results ahead of next steps.”

Meanwhile, Welsh side Cardiff said all of the PCR tests carried out on Sunday night returned negative results and the two players who tested positive over the weekend continue to isolate away from the team hotel and remain in good health.

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