UPDATE: Leinster into quarters as Toulon rage at 'scandal'
NEWS: Leinster will progress to the European Champions Cup quarter-finals following their cancelled match against Toulon.
Leinster received a walkover victory on Friday after their European Champions Cup last-16 match with Toulon was cancelled just hours before kick-off because of a positive coronavirus case at the French club.
The player tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.
However, with that player having gone into isolation, Toulon travelled to Dublin for the game on Thursday.
The club said it carried out further tests on Thursday, all of which were negative.
But European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) pulled the plug on the knock-out fixture hours before Friday’s kick-off due to the French club’s front-row players having been identified as close contacts.
Consequently, the EPCR organisers released a statement, revealing Leinster have been awarded all the match points.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) April 2, 2021
The official statement read: “The committee, comprising members of the EPCR Management team, with EPCR Board members, Andrea Rinaldo (FIR) and Robert Howat (SRU), as observers, considered the facts regarding the cancelled match today (Friday, April 2).
“Following medical advice that the match could not be played safely, RC Toulon were unable to select a match day squad after it was deemed that the club had a number of high-risk close contacts with one of its non-travelling players who had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Therefore as RC Toulon could not fulfil the fixture, the committee decided under the terms of EPCR’s COVID-19 protocol that Leinster will progress to the Champions Cup quarter-finals on the weekend of April 9/10/11,”
This means Leinster will meet 2020 champions Exeter Chiefs or Lyon on April 9.
Meanwhile, Toulon have expressed their outrage at the decision, with club president Bernard Lemaitre calling it a “scandal” and threatening that the Top 14 side will boycott the competition in the future.
“It’s disgusting,” Lemaitre told Midi Olympique in France.
“The player tested positive on Wednesday and immediately isolated. EPCR was immediately informed, but they let us go to Dublin [on Thursday], for more than 24 hours.
“And despite a total negative re-test of the players on [Thursday] at 20.00, these people made this decision less than five hours before the match.”
Toulon also released an official statement stressing that the club “strongly deplores the decision” to cancel the game.
This is not the first time Toulon have been in a similar predicament given this season’s heavily Covid-19 disruption.
When Toulon pulled out of a game in December after their opponents, Scarlets, reported a positive test, the EPCR awarded the Welsh side a 28-0 victory.
“This is the second time it’s happened to the same club and not just any club. It’s a club with a certain reputation, especially in the European Cup. We are treated like Kleenex,” said Lemaitre.
Source: AFP & Midi Olympique & The42ie