Rugby ball lying in the grass (Photo by Franck Seguin / Corbis / VCG via Getty Images)
The South African rugby sevens team will not compete in the Madrid Sevens tournaments after the Spanish government extended its COVID-19 travel restrictions to a number of countries, including South Africa.
The Springbok Sevens team will not compete in the Madrid Sevens tournaments at Campo UCM Central later in February after the Spanish government extended COVID-19 travel restrictions to a number of countries. (Getty Images)
The restrictions were imposed as new variants of COVID-19 emerged, which led to a resurgence of the pandemic. Air travel restrictions apply to the UK, South Africa and Brazil through March 2nd to minimize the importation of tribes from these countries.
Madrid was to host two tournaments at Campo UCM Central from February 19-21 and February 26-28.
The tournaments were organized by World Rugby to support teams that had qualified for the scheduled Tokyo Olympics in July.
The Blitzboks were scheduled to fly to Spain on February 9, when an original travel ban was due to end, but the Spanish government’s announcement effectively ruled them out.
Blitzbok coach Neil Powell said he was disappointed with the turn of events as the players went to great lengths to prepare for the events.
“I have a feel for the players who are already short of tournament time as they worked very hard to get into match mode and we were in the last week of those preps,” said Powell.
“However, it shows us how unpredictable things are around the world right now. We’ve talked about being flexible in the run-up to the Olympics and this is living proof of that. We can only control what is controllable and there is nothing we can do about this situation. “
SA Rugby confirmed that the management of the team of seven were looking for alternatives to give the team a chance at competitive action.