Barbarians match called off 90 minutes before kick-off due to Covid cases

Saturday’s match between the Barbarians and Samoa was called off 90 minutes before kick-off, while the women’s side beat a Springbok XV 60-5

  • Women’s game at Twickenham attracts world-record crowd
  • Qualifying for Women’s Cricket World Cup is abandoned
Natasha Hunt captained the Barbarian Women side against a Springbok XV
Natasha Hunt captained the Barbarian Women side against a Springbok XV, with the game shown on BBC One after the men’s match against Samoa was called off. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Saturday’s match between the Barbarian men’s team and Samoa at Twickenham was cancelled just 90 minutes before kick-off due to coronavirus cases among the invitational side.

A statement released by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) revealed four Barbarians players and two members of staff had tested positive for Covid-19. In a separate statement on Twitter, Barbarians claimed that they had 23 available players “who all tested negative [on Saturday] morning.”

“The whole squad complied to the letter with the Covid protocols throughout the week, including daily lateral flow tests,” the team statement continued. “After today’s results, we worked hard with the RFU, Public Health England and the testing oversight committee, to find a way that we could play.

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“Unfortunately, it was concluded on medical grounds that there was a risk to players on both sides should the game go ahead. All of our players are absolutely devastated they were unable to play today in front of an amazing and passionate crowd. We wish our unwell players a speedy recovery.”

The postponement meant the match between Barbarian Women and a Springbok XV was moved forward to 2.30pm and broadcast live on BBC One. Barbarians won the game 60-5 in front of 29,581 fans – a world record for a women’s rugby union international.

Samoa’s players still made their way on to the pitch and performed their traditional pre-game Haka. Joe Tekori, who was set to make his final appearance for Samoa, gave an emotional interview to the BBC after the game was called off. “I know it’s my last game for my country, it’s sad for me. I didn’t want to end like this,” Tekori said.

The earlier RFU statement read: “Due to six confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Barbarians men’s team … the fixture scheduled to be played against Samoa today is unable to proceed. We appreciate this is an extremely disappointing situation for the many fans due to attend, but the safety of all members of both teams is our priority.”

Samoa perform the Haka after their game against Barbarians was cancelled.
Samoa perform the Haka after their game against Barbarians was cancelled. Photograph: Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Barbarians

Women’s Cricket World Cup qualifying called off

The qualifying event for the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup taking place in Zimbabwe has been abandoned due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus in South Africa.

“We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the remainder of this event but with travel restrictions from a number of African countries being imposed at such short notice, there was a serious risk that teams would be unable to return home,” said the International Cricket Council’s head of events, Chris Tetley.

While Ireland have missed out on the chance to qualify, they will be included in the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship along with Sri Lanka, providing an extra opportunity to qualify for the next World Cup after the 2022 edition

Concerns about the new variant of coronavirus in southern Africa have led to a number of sporting events being called off. South Africa’s three-match men’s ODI series against the Netherlands has been called off “as a result of mounting anxiety and concern” from the touring side, Cricket South Africa has reported.

In rugby union, Cardiff, Scarlets and Munster are all working to get their travelling squads back to the UK and Ireland after their United Rugby Championship games against South African opponents were postponed. Golf’s DP World Tour had reduced this week’s Joburg Open to a 54-hole event, and it has now been abandoned due to bad weather.

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