JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Two players from Irish club Leinster, travelling to South Africa for their first PRO14 match in the country, were refused entry because they did not have the required visa, the club said on Thursday. Leinster captain Isa Nacewa and scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park were both sent home on arrival on Wednesday because they did not have the visa, which South Africa has required of New Zealand citizens since January.
“It was only brought to our attention upon landing into Johannesburg on Wednesday morning that this was now a requirement,” said the club’s Head of Rugby Operations Guy Easterby.
“This was clearly an administrative oversight on our part and a valuable lesson has been learned. “Nick McCarthy will arrive in later on Thursday and for the moment no other player will be called up to the squad,” he added.
Leinster will compete in the first PRO14 match in South Africa when they meet the Southern Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Kings and the Free State Cheetahs joined the PRO14 this season after being ejected from a trimmed down Super Rugby competition.
Later on Saturday, the Cheetahs host Zebre of Italy in Bloemfontein in their first home match. Leinster, who have won four previous PRO12 titles, will stay in South Africa for a meeting with the Cheetahs on Sept. 22.
They did not say whether they would attempt to get visas for the two New Zealanders to travel for that match.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis