Another French club gets a freebie
BREAKING NEWS: Another French club received five free points in the European Cup, as COVID threatens to wreak havoc.
EPCR revealed on Friday that it has been informed by Ospreys that they have a recorded a number of positive tests for COVID-19 among their playing squad.
“As a consequence, the club is not in a position to safely fulfil its Champions Cup, Round Two fixture against Racing 92 – scheduled for Saturday, December 18,” an EPCR statement read.
The Pool A fixture at Paris La Défense Arena is therefore cancelled with Racing 92 awarded the match on a 28-0, five match points basis, in accordance with the “tournament rules.”
This follows after former European champions Leinster released a statement expressing their “disappointment” with the decision on Friday to award all five match points to the Top 14 side Montpellier – despite having been given the green light to travel by Public Health Ireland.
Leinster’s trip to Montpellier on Friday was the first match to fall to COVID-19, after the Irish province produced a number of new cases.
The cancellation resulted in a 28-0 victory being awarded to Montpellier.
It was also revealed that new travel restrictions brought in by the French government are threatening to play havoc with the weekend’s Champions Cup fixtures.
Tournament organisers EPCR have confirmed that they are in discussions with the French authorities over what the new measures mean for the round two games still due to take place this weekend.
Tourism and work are no longer sufficient reasons for travel regardless of vaccination status with Paris declaring only essential travel is permitted.
Also adding to the problems for visiting teams is that all arrivals from the UK must provide a negative test within the previous 24 hours as well as quarantine in France for seven days, although a fresh negative test will reduce that to 48 hours.
While the restrictions cast a cloud over an additional seven games this weekend, the fact that they come into effect from Saturday evening places the following day’s action in major doubt.
Two Premiership clubs are involved with Wasps travelling to Toulouse and Bristol visiting Stade Francais.
Bears director of rugby Pat Lam admits the game is shrouded in uncertainty.
“I wouldn’t say I’m confident that it will go ahead but we are confident we can go over there and prepare well,” Lam said.
“There are talks going on, we are expecting to fly out on Saturday and are just waiting to see what is happening.
“The French government are involved now which is the stumbling block at the moment. It’s out of our control.
“Getting over there is one thing, but you have to do all the PCR tests with all the timings.
“You might end up flying over there, not getting your results until you arrive and then players are ruled out and you are coming all the way back again.
“Now it’s not only about being able to get in, but the testing process and a 48-hour quarantine, which obviously can’t happen.
“These are the things our decision-makers are going through and hopefully they’ll let us know ASAP.”
* Additional reporting by PA