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Ulster reveals what caused gastroenteritis infections

REACTION: Irish province Ulster stoutly defended their decision to call off their scheduled Round Six United Rugby Championship match with the Sharks at the weekend.

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Ulster and Scottish outfit Glasgow Warriors were both forced to postpone their URC games in South Africa this weekend because of the outbreak of “gastroenteritis infections”.

The Warriors were due to face Lions in Johannesburg, with Ulster scheduled to play the Sharks in Durban.

A URC statement read: “Due to gastroenteritis infections it is not possible for Ulster or Glasgow Warriors to field full playing squads.

“In order to ensure a duty of care towards the players involved and given the medical advice received from all key stakeholders, the United Rugby Championship has made the decision to postpone the fixtures.

“The league will now move to examine potential dates to reschedule the games and will update in due course.”

Speculation about the cause of the gastro problems was rife at the weekend – with suggestions of players having swum in ‘contaminated water’ or food poisoning.

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A statement issued by Ulster on Sunday confirmed that both E. coli and Norovirus were found in tested samples.

Humans may be exposed to E. coli from contaminated water or food, while Norovirus – a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea – is also the result of consuming contaminated food and water.

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While both teams were in Durban this past week, they did not stay in the same hotel.

They also denied swimming in contaminated water.

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Sharks boss Marco Masotti has blasted URC officials, while South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus was also involved in heated debates about the allocation of points should the matches be cancelled.

Meanwhile, Ulster revealed that 29 players and 13 support staff suffered from the outbreak of illness which forced the postponement of their game against the Sharks.

“Independent medical testing confirmed both E. coli and Norovirus in tested samples,” the Ulster statement read.

Ulster said: “All precautionary medical, nutritional, and Public Health advice was adhered to prior to any member of the travelling group falling ill.”

Coach Dan McFarland described the level of sickness as “unprecedented”.

The Ulster coach added that it was “disappointing, especially given how unwell our group was, that some chose to question the reasoning for our game to be postponed, as we have invested a lot as a group and an organisation in getting this fixture played”.

Ulster’s statement added that the travelling squad will arrive back in Belfast on Monday, before starting preparations “later this week” for next Saturday’s game against Munster at Thomond Park.

“With players and staff now recovering, we are focused on getting home to start preparations for our upcoming Interpro fixture at Thomond Park,” added McFarland.

Ulster statement on Sharks postponement

Ulster statement on Sharks postponement

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