The Queensland Reds’ trip to Cape Town has been stalled by a massive, last-minute detour to London. (AAP: Dan Peled)
The Queensland Reds have been preaching the message about embracing adversity this Super Rugby season, and it’s coming to them in spades after a scheduled trip to South Africa took on several complications.
The Reds, fresh from a surprising-but-deserved 18-7 win over Argentinian franchise Jaguares in Buenos Aires, were denied boarding on their flight to South Africa ahead of the Super Rugby match-up against the Stormers in Cape Town.
Throwing a major spanner into their travel plans, the Reds were informed by South African Airways officials at Sao Paulo International Airport in Brazil they were barred from the flight because they had not been vaccinated for yellow fever.
The Reds had received travel advice — including advice from the World Health Organisation — that vaccination was not a requirement as yellow fever was mostly prevalent in Argentina’s northern regions, not in the capital where their Super Rugby match was played.
The only alternative was a detour to London, adding about 15 hours to their trip to Cape Town.
How this circumvents South Africa’s concerns over the Reds’ collective non-vaccination, however, is one for the legislators.
South Africa requires an international health certificate with details of vaccination if travelling from a yellow fever-risk country, or having been in transit exceeding 12 hours through the airport of a country at risk.
Commonwealth Games forced a fixture reshuffle
It is the first time an Australian Super Rugby team has played in Argentina first before moving on to play in South Africa.
Usually the season fixtures are the other way around, but 2018’s are in reverse order due to a little thing called the Commonwealth Games.
The Gold Coast event has thrown up scheduling problems for major teams in Queensland’s south-east, including the Reds. This fixture reversal has now brought South Africa’s yellow fever concerns into sharp focus, blindsiding both the team and organisers.
The Reds have enjoyed a solid start to the Super Rugby season, winning three of their first four matches. (AAP: Dan Peled)
Reds coach Brad Thorn reportedly took the team aside in Sao Paulo, encouraging his players to embrace the adversity.
Aside from the massive distraction of a trip around the world with less-than-ideal leg room, Queensland’s South African-born prop Ruan Smith is looking forward to the Stormers Clash at Newlands.
“We’re just going to throw the kitchen sink at it and give it our all,” he said.
“There’s a lot of guys in the group who haven’t played there and your first time playing in Cape Town, it’s always special.
“It’s a big crowd always, an enjoyable stadium to play in. We’re just going to go out and enjoy it. We’ve got nothing to lose.”