PRO 14 rugby encountered an unusual teething problem when two Leinster players were turned away from OR Tambo airport on Wednesday for failing to produce visas.
New Zealanders Isa Nacewa‚ who captain’s Leinster‚ and scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park were denied entry to the country. New Zealand citizens require visas to enter SA after a change in legislation in January this year.
Sources confirmed to TimesLIVE that the players did not have the correct paper work and even though calls were placed to Fatima Chohan‚ Deputy Minister of Home Affairs‚ in an attempt to secure their entry to the country‚ the request was rejected.
It appears there was an oversight by Leinster and they did not know that New Zealand citizens required South African visas. The club was tight-lipped and issued a terse statement that failed to explain how the embarrassing situation occurred.
"Leinster Rugby can confirm that both Jamison Gibson-Park and Isa Nacewa have not been granted a visa at this point in time and will, as a result, return to Dublin at the earliest opportunity‚" the statement read. "Nick McCarthy has been called up to the touring squad as a result and will arrive [on Thursday]. Leinster Rugby will be making no further comment on this matter."
The Irish club is in SA to play against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and against the Cheetahs the following weekend.
Flank Rhys Ruddock will captain the side in Nacewa’s absence. He told the Irish Independent: "It’s not something we could prepare for and no one had thought of it, so it’s obviously disappointing to lose some of the guys we brought over and their experience. But there’s enough to do the job and we’re confident in the group we have."
Nacewa and Gibson-Park have already left SA.