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Champions Cup restart thrown into chaos by Leinster versus Toulon cancellation

By Liam Heagney

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This Friday’s Heineken Champions Cup restart has been thrown into chaos following the cancellation of the plum Leinster versus Toulon round of 16 tie that was due to have played in Dublin with a 5.30pm kickoff. Less than five hours before that start time, it was confirmed by EPCR on social media that the match was cancelled but no reason was initially given.  

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It’s the second time this season that a Champions Cup game involving Toulon has been cancelled shortly before kickoff. Last December they arrived in Wales to face Scarlets but they never left Cardiff airport due to concerns about the safety bubble surrounding the match and they flew home.

With no chance of the Leinster versus Toulon game being staged at another time this Easter weekend, it has plunged the Champions Cup back into uncertainty as the winners of this match at the RDS were due to travel next weekend to the winners of this Saturday’s game between defending champions Exeter and Lyon.  

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An email from Leinster to media accreditated to attend the match stated: “Please note that today’s Heineken Champions Cup game against RC Toulon is off. On behalf of Leinster, I apologise for any inconvenience caused and I hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend.”

A statement from EPCR was eventually issued around 90 minutes after it first emerged that the match was cancelled. It read: “Following a meeting by video conference of a matchday medical risk assessment committee comprising medical leads from the unions, league bodies and both clubs, with input from the public health authorities in Ireland, it has been decided to cancel the Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 match between Leinster and Toulon.

“The committee, which received independent medical advice from Dr Brendan Payne (England) and Dr Daniel Koch (Switzerland), was informed that a Toulon player, who did not travel to Ireland, had tested positive for Covid-19 as part of the club’s routine testing. 

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“Although the Toulon players and staff who had travelled undertook an additional round of PCR testing in Dublin on Thursday which revealed no positive results, the committee concluded there were a number of high-risk contacts with the player who had tested positive and deemed the match unsafe to play with the participation of those identified contacts. 

“Having been notified of that position, Toulon informed EPCR that they could not select a matchday squad to safely fulfil the fixture. Having explored all possible alternative arrangements to facilitate the staging of the fixture, it was decided that the match could not be played safely given both the current public health guidelines in Ireland and EPCR’s covid-19 protocol.

“A match result resolution committee will be convened as soon as practicable to determine the outcome of the fixture.”

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Champions Cup restart thrown into chaos by Leinster versus Toulon cancellation

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