The negative effect of the coronavirus on French rugby has had another example, this Sunday’s Top 14 game between Montpellier and Castres the latest fixture to fall victim to the illness. It was 13 days ago when Castres’ Challenge Cup quarter-final at Leicester was cancelled following an outbreak within the French club’s camp. 

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They claimed at the time it only affected people who weren’t due to be involved versus Tigers, but EPCR awarded Leicester a walk-over after telling Castres not to travel to England. Nearly a fortnight later, Castres still haven’t shaken off the virus and their trip to Montpellier is now off. 

A statement from the league read: “Following several positive cases declared within the workforce of Castres Olympique, in the application of the Covid-19 medical protocol, and after the opinion of the Covid-19 expertise commission, the third round Top 14 meeting of Montpellier and Castres is officially postponed will take place at a later date.”

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It becomes the third fixture already called off in the new 2020/21 Top 14 season. The opening round early September meeting of Stade Francais versus Bordeaux was postponed due to a widespread outbreak among the Parisian club, while Racing 92’s match this weekend at La Rochelle has also been scratched.

Nine people were believed to have tested positive at Racing following tests that were conducted on Wednesday and the whole playing squad and staff have been placed into isolation in the hope that the illness won’t jeopardise their October 17 Champions Cup final with Exeter at Bristol. 

“EPCR has noted the announcement of several positive Covid-19 tests at Racing 92 and sends its best wishes to the club and to each person affected,” read a statement issued on Thursday by the European tournament organisers.

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“EPCR will be following its full, robust protocols regarding the Heineken Champions Cup final on October 17 and will remain in contact with Racing 92, Exeter Chiefs and the French league throughout.”

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