A team of ex-players from Argentina's national team known worldwide as the Pumas Classic will not be participating in this year's edition of the World Rugby Classic to be played next month in Bermuda. This is because the World Rugby Classic event will be a “vaccinated only” event, pointed out John Kane, president of the WRC.
The ever-popular tournament will mark its return from November 7 to 13, after it was postponed last year for the first time since it began 32 years ago. Original restrictions in place meant that the tournament would be run under public health regulations as a SafeKey event.
The Classic Pumas and South Africa's Classic Springboks have not been invited to compete this year out of precaution, with both Argentina and South Africa on Britain’s Covid-19 “red list” for travel restrictions.
With Bermuda registering 1,319 active cases and having recorded 82 deaths after the most recent update, Kane has revealed the added protocol of a vaccination and SafeKey will be required of everyone, including players, officials, volunteers, caterers, delivery personnel and ticket holders.
“Our primary concern is to protect everyone attending the Classic, as well as Bermuda at large, and this is the best way we can do this,” Kane said. “No one, including ticket holders, will be able to access the National Sports Centre North Field area without them.
“SafeKey, following a negative Covid test, is not sufficient on its own for our purposes; vaccination is the key for those 12 and over”.
In another notable change, Kane also revealed that the USA Classic Eagles have withdrawn after losing their main sponsor and will be replaced by a Bermuda team, led by national head coach Jamie Barnwell.
The USA Classic Eagles are the latest past participants who will not be making an appearance at the tournament, which has been scaled down from previous years.
As a result, the field has been reduced to six teams challenging for the crown left vacant by three-times champions Classic Pumas of Argentina — Rugby Canada, Ireland Rugby Legends, Lions Legends, Rugby Italian XV, France Classic Rugby and Bermuda.
“The return of a Bermuda team adds immeasurably to local interest in the Classic and will be a great experience for the players involved.“