The abrupt diagnosis of the new Omicron form of Covid-19 by a (ironically) South African scientist caused the tourists to press the panic button. The haste with which Munster and Cardiff rushed to the airports was unseemly, and when they were unable to go due to positive cases, they acted as if they had been cast into purgatory.
Some Cardiff players who were stranded in Cape Town suffered panic attacks, and the Wales Rugby Union’s mental wellness department was put on standby to deal with “anxiety and mental health issues” resulting from the players’ evacuation, which resembled the British army fleeing Dunkirk from the advancing Germans in 1940.
It also reminded me of how, in 1993, New South Wales canceled a Super 10 visit to Durban out of fear that “unrest” would endanger their lives.
One year after the Omincron outbreak, the Sharks, and Kings Park in particular, were all dressed up and had rolled out the red carpet, only to have their guests send a sick note.
For this match against the Irish giants, the annual Sharkfest was held, and the Stadium was decked out in all its splendor. Sixty desperate shopkeepers eagerly prepared their wares for a flea market on the outer fields to earn money courtesy of the Sharks… In fact, Sharks CEO Ed Coetzee believes that they lost R2 million due to cancelled entertainment, catering, and ticket sales.
From New York, Sharks owner Marco Masotti took to Twitter to express his displeasure. “Is this satire? He added rhetorically, “How is this possible in professional sports?”
The organizers of the URC will be asking themselves this because, frankly, it is embarrassing that two matches in this young tournament were canceled over the weekend. According to Masotti, it simply does not occur in professional sports.
The most notorious case of gastro occurred prior to the 1995 World Cup final, and the All Blacks “fronted up,” as they say in New Zealand.
I have no doubt that Ulster had a gastroenteritis epidemic, but why were they silent about it until noon the day before the game?
Stephen Saad, the owner of one of the largest pharmaceutical businesses, Aspen, is the chairman of the board of the Sharks, whose headquarters are located approximately one kilometer from the Ulster hotel at Umhlanga Rocks. This kind of medical resources and ammunition might have had some Ulster players ready to play, so why weren’t healthy reinforcements from Belfast flown in?
If the Sharks had become ill in Belfast, they would have traveled over to their Academy in order to honor the match…
South Africa, I’m afraid, has become something of a punching bag for foreign rugby teams, as the country’s undeniable third-world problems provide convenient excuses…