THE Cardiff Rugby squad has been forced to stay in South Africa after two of its team tested positive for Covid-19.

One of those cases is suspected to be the new Omicron variant, three cases of which have already been found in the UK.

The squad had been due to fly back to Europe on Sunday, but after two members received positive tests, they have returned to their hotel to self-isolate.

Cardiff and Scarlets had been due to play some of South Africa’s top sides in the United Rugby Championship, but the emergence of the new variant forced the games to be postponed.

A statement on Cardiff Rugby’s Facebook page stated that they had been unable to depart South Africa, adding: “The travelling party had hoped to depart Cape Town this afternoon after a charter plane was secured, however PCR tests undertaken last night have returned two positive results.

“As a consequence of one of these results suspected of being Omicron, the entire travelling party have returned to their hotel to isolate.

“Cardiff Rugby continue to work with the South African Rugby Union, the Welsh Rugby Union and public health authorities both at home and abroad to decide the next course of action.

“The club are also continuing to work with all relevant authorities to secure the travelling party’s return to Wales when safe and appropriate.

“Everybody concerned in this highly challenging situation would like to thank their families, friends, colleagues and the wider rugby family for their many messages of concern and well wishes.”

On the same day, the Scarlets announced that they had been able to return home and that the squad were ‘all well’ and ‘in good spirits’.

A spokesperson for the Scarlets said: “We have been working closely with the United Rugby Championship and Welsh Rugby Union over the last few days and would like to thank the South African authorities for their assistance in helping facilitate our departure.

“The Scarlets would also like to say a huge thanks to the management and staff at the Capital Pearls in Umhlanga, Durban for all their help and understanding over the last few days and in particular Kubaan, who has been looking after our security and our liaison officer Bert, who has also been assisting the travelling party.

“The squad, who travelled from Durban to Cape Town on Saturday, are all well, in good spirits and have been following all Covid protocols and guidance.”