Warren Gatland Shuts Down Exciting Proposed Fixture Change From Rassie Erasmus
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British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has shut down Rassie Erasmus’ proposal to play South Africa A for a second time on Saturday following their first meeting on Wednesday night.
Erasmus was speaking to the media today and believes that would be the safest option for both parties as they bid to keep the tour on track despite rising COVID-19 cases across South Africa.
The Springboks have named an incredible ‘A’ side to take on the Lions this Wednesday with many people already labeling it as an ‘unofficial fourth Test’ with the likes of Faf de Klerk, Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Cheslin Kolbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, and Willie le Roux all starting.
“For me, in my view, that would be the safest (option),” Erasmus said.
“We’ve been tested negative now two days in a row, we don’t have a positive case within the squad currently in our Cape Town hotel. We are in a totally hard bubble, moving nowhere. The British and Irish squad is negative.
“My honest opinion is that to play a team like the Stormers or the Sharks, I think the chances of infection is as good as we had when we played Georgia. Up until the Georgia Test match we had one case, which was RG Snyman, and then after the Georgia Test match, we had eight management alone positive.
“So I think the moment you bring teams from the outside in, not that I’m pointing fingers at Georgia, I’m just saying it is a very tough situation to control.
“Like when we brought guys in, the guys we brought in from abroad like Vincent Koch and RG Snyman, although they were false positives, that’s when we actually got infections. It wasn’t when we were staying in our bubble.
After we played Georgia, that’s when all our infections started.
“So I think, in my opinion, if the two of us can play a South Africa A game on Wednesday, and play another one on Saturday, I think medically, (in terms of) player welfare and also for the spectators, it would be wonderful to have two good match-ups in mixing teams and playing twice, and I’m sure Warren and the guys wouldn’t be afraid or scared or say no to that.”
“If we were so powerful as to change it (the schedule), we would just ask Warren and the team to play another South Africa A game on Saturday.
“If I could have my way, and we could ask for that, that would be fantastic and I think the people would enjoy it.
“That would be ideal, but obviously I can’t just make those decisions. There’s a Lions board and CEOs, and a lot of other stakeholders involved.
“I’m going to beg until we find really valid medical reasons why that is not the safest (option).
“I just can’t see why that can’t be the safest option, where we just have all negative cases, we’re all living in bubbles, and you just don’t get any connection with any teams from the outside.”
But it appears Warren Gatland has absolutely no interest in changing the fixture.
“No, we won’t be playing them again on Saturday,” Gatland said when asked about Erasmus’ suggestion.
Watch this space. This might not be over just yet.