It has been an extraordinary few days for Cardiff and the Scarlets, who have found themselves at the centre of a Covid crisis out in South Africa.
The saga still continues with uncertainty over exactly what the immediate future holds.
While the Scarlets have managed to fly out of Cape Town, what do we know about where they will undertake their mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine and where does it leave them in terms of their Champions Cup campaign?
As for Cardiff, they are still stuck in South Africa after two positive Covid cases were identified, one of which is suspected to be the new Omicron variant.
So here’s everything we know so far and what is likely to happen next:
Why were the two Welsh regions out in South Africa in the first place?
They were there to play two rounds of matches in the pan-continent United Rugby Championship, as were Munster and Zebre.
Originally, the games were going to be played in Italy due to Covid-related travel issues.
But with South Africa being removed from the UK Government’s red travel list, the decision was taken to stage the games out there instead.
So, last weekend, both Cardiff and the Scarlets flew out to the Rainbow Nation.
Dai Young’s men were due to face the Lions in Johannesburg and then the Stormers in Cape Town.
As for the Scarlets, it was the Sharks first up in Durban and then the Bulls in Pretoria.
On arrival, both teams set about preparing for the games and all seemed well for a few days.
But then, on Thursday evening, things changed dramatically.
What happened exactly?
At around 8.50pm, England’s health secretary Sajid Javid announced that six African countries were being added to the UK red travel list because of concerns over a new variant of Covid-19, B.1.1.529 – or Omicron, as we now know it.
One of those countries was South Africa.
Scheduled flights out of the country were to be temporarily banned, while anyone arriving in the UK from there after 4am on Sunday, November 28, would face a 10-day hotel quarantine.
So began a mad scramble.
Who did what next?
It was immediately clear the United Rugby Championship matches could not now go ahead, with the focus switching to getting everyone home safely as soon as possible.
There was also the two teams’ forthcoming Champions Cup campaign to consider.
Cardiff are due to welcome holders Toulouse to the Arms Park on Saturday, December 11, with the Scarlets away to Bristol later the same day.
Clearly having to undertake a 10-day hotel quarantine would have a huge impact on preparations for those games.
So work began on trying to get the teams home with officials working through the night.
What was the plan they put in place?
A charter aircraft was secured and the idea was to fly out of Cape Town.
That would enable them to get back ahead of the Sunday 4am cut-off, meaning they would not have to quarantine in a hotel, but at home instead.
But there was to be a major hitch.
They were unable to secure Civil Aviation Authority clearance due to the closure of borders in the UK and European Union. So the plane was unable to leave.
Questions were raised in the House of Commons, but Sajid Javid said the UK Government would not do anything to help the two Welsh teams get back.
How have things moved on since then?
Well, with the Scarlets having made the journey from Durban to Cape Town, work continued to try and get them out on the same plane.
It was a long drawn-out process, but gradually a plan began to take shape during Saturday.
Come Sunday morning the deadline had passed, so there was now no way of avoiding the 10-day hotel quarantine.
But at least it looked as though they would be able to fly out.
The plan was for the two Welsh regions to head out on the same flight as the Munster and Zebre squad, with Ireland the initial destination.
So all looked good, with an early afternoon departure scheduled.
But then came the bombshell news.
First Munster announced they would be remaining in Cape Town after returning a positive Covid case.
Then around an hour later came the announcement from Cardiff.
They revealed they had been hit by two positive cases of Covid-19, one of which was suspected to be the new variant Omicron.
As a result, they were unable to depart South Africa.
WalesOnline understands the Cardiff travelling party were actually just arriving at the airport when the news of the positive tests came through.
So they then had to head back to their hotel to isolate.
The Scarlets had better fortune and were able to fly out along with the Zebre squad.
What happens now?
Well, Cardiff will now 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.
In tandem with all relevant authorities, they will look to “secure the travelling party’s return to Wales when safe and appropriate”.
Just when that will be remains to be seen.
They may now have to isolate as a group for 10 days in Cape Town before they are able to fly out.
Fingers will be firmly crossed that there are no further positive cases during that period, as that would delay their return still further.
It remains to be seen whether they would have to go through a further 10-day hotel quarantine then on arriving in the UK.
As for the Scarlets, it looks as though they will undertake their isolation in accommodation in Belfast, with their plane from Cape Town either landing there or in Dublin, with a transfer to follow.
What about the European games?
Well, there doesn’t seem any way Cardiff will be able to fulfil their opening Champions Cup fixture against Toulouse at the Arms Park on December 11.
You can pretty much write all of the party who are in South Africa out of the Euro equation.
They did leave six Wales squad members back home in the shape of Josh Adams, Ellis Jenkins, Willis Halaholo, Seb Davies, Tomos Williams and Dillon Lewis.
So they could potentially be available for the game, along with Olly Robinson who was not one of the Barbarians players to test positive amid the cancellation of the Twickenham showpiece against Samoa.
There would also be young Academy members to call on and maybe even some of the Cardiff semi-pro Premiership side, should special dispensation be granted by the tournament organisers.
But is that really a viable option when it comes to taking on the European champions?
One would think not.
So the likeliest scenario is the game will have to be postponed or cancelled altogether, while there has to be doubt over the following week’s trip to Harlequins as well.
Turning to the Scarlets, will they realistically be able to fulfil their opening fixture away to Bristol on December 11, as they won’t come out of quarantine until just a couple of days before the game, ruling out any practical preparation?
Remember too that they, like Cardiff, won’t have played a game of rugby for six weeks.
So that’s where we stand right now.
We will no doubt learn more in the coming days as this remarkable saga continues.