The Munster squad and staff remain in South Africa and are still working on securing passage back to Ireland.

The province's two-game United Rugby Championship tour of the country was cancelled yesterday as concern grew over a new coronavirus variant.

Ireland has added seven countries, including South Africa, to its mandatory quarantine list.

Munster are considered an 'elite' team and along with the other provinces, was given a dispensation during the last lockdown.

However, the country's health minister, Stephen Donnelly, said there would be no exceptions to the 10-day isolation condition.

"Munster Rugby continue to work tirelessly on travel plans for getting the touring party back to Ireland as soon as possible," the province said in an update this morning.

"Based in Loftus Park the touring group of 34 players and 14 staff are remaining within the hotel environment waiting on further developments.

Pic: Munster Rugby Twitter

"The training week was well spent at the nearby Affies high school with the squad having the gym, pitch, and meeting room facilities to themselves.

"While it was an enjoyable and productive week in the build-up to what would have been today's game against the Vodacom Bulls the focus has now switched to ensuring the squad’s return to Ireland."

Head of Medical Dr Jamie Kearns said: "We were really looking forward to this URC encounter especially given Johann [van Graan's] relationship with the club. Overall, the week has gone smoothly with everyone in high spirits.

"We are disappointed not to be playing today, but we are all too aware of the ever-changing world of Covid-19 and the danger it represents, and our priority is the health and well-being of the group.

"After receiving negative PCR test results, we continue to follow Covid protocols, restrict our movements and remain within our bubble as the work continues in the background on getting the touring party back to Ireland."

Munster released a subsequent update later in the day to say the party are on their way to Cape Town to await news on a further flight.

Meanwhile, Connacht's Dave Heffernan, who made his 150th appearance for the westerners in last night's 46-18 win over Ospreys, was asked about the disruption.

He said: "Luckily, it’s not affecting us at the moment. We haven’t spoken about it but I’m sure it’s really frustrating for the teams over there.

"But that’s just the way things are at the moment. We have to roll with it. It was the same last year. Games were getting cancelled all the time and you just have to get on with it. That’s just the way it is at the moment unfortunately."

Head coach Andy Friend commented: "It is fickle unfortunately. All we can control is the games that we've got.

"We didn’t even talk about it as a collective team but certainly behind the scenes we’re having some conversations today and the key message is just take every game that presents itself for you and try and get a win."

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