COVID blow for Euro Cup
NEWS: The European Cup has suffered its first cancellation as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak.
European Professional Club Rugby revealed they have been informed by Scarlets that due to player welfare concerns and the club’s inability to safely field a matchday squad, they are not in a position to fulfil their Champions Cup, Round One fixture against Bristol Bears scheduled for Saturday, December 11, at Ashton Gate.
“The fixture in Pool B is therefore cancelled with Bristol Bears awarded the match on a 28-0, five match points basis, in accordance with the tournament rules,” the organisers said in a statement.
“Scarlets, Bristol Bears and EPCR used their best endeavours to stage the match.
“However, this has not been possible and it is regrettable that the fixture is now cancelled.”
The EPCR said it acknowledged the “unfortunate circumstances” which have impacted on Scarlets’ players and staff through no fault of their own.
“[We] would like to emphasise that awarding the match to Bristol Bears is a tournament management measure with the objective of ensuring that all fixtures in the 2021/22 Champions Cup are accounted for.
“EPCR has been in regular dialogue with Scarlets in recent days to offer guidance and support, and best wishes are extended to everyone at the club.”
(Continue below …)
The decision to call off the match came a day after EPCR officials shut the door on the suggestion that some of this weekend’s games could be rearranged to help clubs hit by South Africa’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Since Munster, Scarlets and Cardiff were left stranded in Cape Town, there has been much speculation regarding the possibility of postponing their round one fixtures in Europe’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions.
However, EPCR has issued a statement in which it acknowledges that player welfare must be the first priority before going on to eliminate any thought of rearranging games.
“We thank the rugby community for their comments in relation to the COVID quarantine situation for certain clubs,” their statement read.
“Player welfare is paramount to EPCR, the teams and the players and as such we have worked to enable the best possible solution.
“If the clubs feel they are unable to field a team that can safely partake in professional rugby at the required level they are able to forfeit the game.
“We fully appreciate that this is not a route many will want to take however following an extensive review with all parties, postponement of the matches is unfortunately not a viable option due to the extremely busy rugby calendar.”