WELSH professional sides Cardiff Rugby and the Scarlets are seeking to return to the UK after South Africa was added to the UK Government’s travel red list.

The United Rugby Championship is scheduled to stage its first fixtures on South African soil this weekend, with the Scarlets set to face the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, while Cardiff have an appointment with the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday.

But both Welsh sides have said they are seeking to return to the UK as soon as possible. Flights from South Africa are due to be suspended from 12 noon today.

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Should they miss the deadline to return to the UK by 4am on Sunday, November 28 it is possible players and staff could be required to quarantine at a government approved hotel for 10 days, causing the postponment of other fixtures.

Those returning from red list countries before 4am Sunday must quarantine at home.

Cardiff posted to its Twitter account to say it intends for all staff to return as soon as possible with the Llanelli-based Scarlets also posting a similar message.

Cardiff's account stated, shortly after 11pm UK time on Thursday: "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."

 

Shortly after midnight, UK time, the Scarlets posted: "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."

 

Irish province Munster and Italian club Zebre Parma are also in South Africa ahead of fixtures against the Bulls and Stormers respectively, and all four sides are due to play a second round of matches in the country next weekend.

UK officials sounded the alarm on Thursday night over a new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 which has the potential to evade immunity built up by vaccination or prior infection.

UK Government health minister Sajid Javid said that flights to England from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday Friday and all six countries will be added to the red list.

Though the Welsh Government must decide on policies related to those travelling to Wales it has in most circumstances followed the same rules put in place by the UK Goverment for England in part due to most international travel to Wales being through airports in England.

The Welsh Government has yet to respond to the addition of the southern African countries to the red list.

Additional reporting: PA Sport Staff

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