Sharks' friendly clash against English giants Saracens cancelled

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Sean Everitt. (Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)
Sean Everitt. (Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)

The friendly clash between the Sharks and English club Saracens, originally scheduled for 15 January, has been cancelled.

Saracens confirmed the news on their website on Wednesday evening, citing "recent developments regarding the new variant of Covid-19" as one of the reasons for the decision.

Last weekend's South African United Rugby Championship (URC) fixtures were thrown into disarray on Friday when the discovery of the Omicron Covid-19 variant led to their postponement.

The overseas teams in the country at the time - Zebre, Scarlets, Cardiff and Munster - all struggled to return home with some players from Munster and Cardiff having to isolate after contracting coronavirus.

"With recent developments regarding the new variant of Covid-19, the uncertainty around international travel that lies ahead and the timeframes in which we are operating in, both teams have made the decision in the best interest of safety for all concerned," the Saracen statement said.

"Saracens and the Sharks share a commitment to grow the game and make a significant contribution to their respective communities, so will continue to communicate, share knowledge and look for opportunities to reschedule the game and work together in the future."

At the time the fixture was originally announced, Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee said they were excited at the opportunity to tackle a prestigious English club like Saracens.

"To be able to play this fixture in London against a team that has had such a strong South African link over the years is very exciting for us," Coetzee said.

"In line with our vision of taking the Sharks brand to the world, this will also provide the team with a wonderful opportunity to interact with our UK fan base and to grow our brand in a very attractive overseas market.

"The scene is set for an exciting clash involving two very proud rugby brands with our sport being the ultimate winner."

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