(The Southern Aftivan Times) – South Africa’s rugby sevens team will not take part in the Madrid Sevens tournaments after the Spanish government extended their COVID-19-related travel restrictions on a number of countries, among them South Africa.
The restrictions were imposed in the wake of the emergence of new COVID-19 variants driving a resurgence of the pandemic. The restrictions on air travel affect Britain, South Africa and Brazil until March 2 to minimise imports of strains from those countries.
Madrid was scheduled to host two tournaments from February 19-21 and 26-28 at Campo UCM Central.
The tournaments had been organised by World Rugby to assist teams that qualified for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games in July.
The Blitzboks were due to fly to Spain on February 9 when an original travel ban was set to come to an end but the Spanish government’s announcement effectively ruled them out.
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said he was disappointed by the turn of events given that the players had put in a lot of effort to prepare for the events.
“I feel for the players, already short on tournament time, as they worked really hard to get into match mode and we were in the final week of those preparations,” Powell said.
“It does show us, however, how unpredictable things are all around the world at the moment. We spoke about being flexible leading up to the Olympics and this is living proof of that. We can only control the controllable and there is nothing we can do about this situation.”
SA Rugby confirmed that the management of the sevens team was exploring alternatives to offer the team a chance of competitive action.