Samoan rugby team back on home island after more than 100 days stuck in coronavirus pandemic limbo

A Samoan rugby team is still in the middle of a two-week quarantine after returning to the island from New Zealand – where they spent more than 100 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Manuma Samoa left their island for a match in Perth, Australia, on Feb. 23. They were planning on training for two weeks before their match and then return before a home game that was set for March 21, according to BBC.

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But on March 15, as the club was playing, the Samoan government announced travel restrictions from 33 countries including Australia.

The players were allowed to enter New Zealand and entered quarantine but the Samoa government announced further travel restrictions banning anyone from flying to the country by plane. According to BBC, all 20 players stayed in a compound in Auckland. They were all in one room in single beds while management stayed in smaller rooms on the compound.

“We had no privacy or anything like that,” Theodore McFarland told BBC on Friday. “There were a few guys snoring.”

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The players managed to continue training even as New Zealand was on Level 4 lockdown. Even as the country eased restrictions, the Samoan-based players had to stay at the compound.

“We were in a compound, you see the same people every day,” Tuala Pat Leota, the team’s manager, told BBC. “I imagine this is what a prisoner feels like.”

Leota said that officials kept pushing back any chance of returning back to the island. It wasn’t until about a week ago they were able to head back.

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The players were forced into quarantine upon return. Samoa has not had a coronavirus case during the pandemic, according to BBC. However, the 104-day journey is nearly over.

Manuma Samoa plays in the Global Rapid Rugby league. The squad was founded in 2019. The team was 0-4 last season and had lost their match in Australia before the pandemic shut things down.