VIDEO: The COVID-19 uncertainties facing the Bulls
REACTION: The Bulls – coaches, staff and players alike – will have a few sleepless nights after the COVID-19 outbreak in the camp.
In the wake of the decision to cancel the match between Griquas and the Bulls, scheduled for Kimberley at the weekend, Edgar Rathbone, Chief Executive Officer at Blue Bulls Company, admitted there is no guarantee that their Round Five encounter with the Lions next Saturday would go ahead.
Rathbone described the outbreak in the Pretoria franchise’s camp as “unfortunate” and added that you would expect to be infected “somewhere along the line”.
He declined to give the number of positive cases, saying it is “not important”.
“It must be a substantial number for the NICD [National Institute For Communicable Diseases] to call a game off,” Rathbone told a virtual media briefing.
Rathbone, in explaining the process that resulted was followed this past week, said the Bulls – like all teams – test on a Tuesday morning and get their results on a Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
The Bulls did no training last week Monday or Tuesday and they did further tests after the initial batch of positive results. More tests came back positive and those infected people must be isolated for 10 days.
It is now a game of wait and see, before a call can be made on the Trans-Jukskei derby next week.
They will do further tests on Monday morning and will only be able to make a call on the next game once those results are back.
“It is tough to say right now,” Rathbone said when asked if the Lions game is also in danger of being called off.
“We will only be able to make a call on that, following the testing on Monday.”
He confirmed that some of the players and staff are showing symptoms.
Asked if they have traced the route cause of the outbreak in the Bulls camp, he said: “You need to do some work [investigation] around it.”
He hinted that the positive cases are most likely to have emanated from their trip to Durban for the Round Two encounter with the Sharks.
“That’s just the reality of the tournament,” Rathbone told the media briefing.
“As soon as you travel together as a squad, stay together in a hotel and travel back as a squad, the risk is there,” he added.
“I think it shows now. In the first part of the competition, we spent four out of the six weeks at home, which makes it a bit less tricky in terms of spreads.
“As soon as you start travelling and staying in hotels – even if you stay in single rooms – the travel to and fro is where the problem comes in.”
It is unlikely there would have bee cross-contamination between the Bulls and Sharks squads.
“[There was] nobody in the [Sharks] game last Saturday that had symptoms at that stage,” the Bulls CEO said.
“Per the protocols, if you test on a Tuesday, you need to do it [after] 48 hours, so that excludes the close contact from the game. So, I’m sure the Sharks would’ve gone through testing on Tuesday as well. I [am not] privy to their results.”
He said they will have to trust their squad to be able to put a team together for the Lions showdown, but added that the number of infections in the front row could impact that.
A shortage of front row resources, as happened to the Sharks earlier in the season, could result in another game being called off.