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EPCR dismisses COVID postponement possibilities

By Paul Smith
EPCR has ruled out postponent possibilities

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European rugby’s governing body EPCR have firmly 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.

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Since Munster, Scarlets and Cardiff were last week stranded in Cape Town, there has been much speculation regarding the possibility of postponing their round one fixtures in the Heineken Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup.

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.

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Munster CEO Ian Flanagan
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Munster CEO Ian Flanagan

“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.”

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All three teams will be without significant numbers of senior players after the European Union and British government responded to the emergence of the Omicron variant by reintroducing travel restrictions.

Both Munster and Cardiff have players still in Cape Town after contracting the virus, while the remainder of their travelling parties including coaches and support staff plus the entire Scarlets squad and management are currently isolating.

EPCR extended the deadline for registering an unlimited number of additional players until midday on Wednesday and Munster have stated their intention to fulfill their fixture with Wasps by using the Ireland internationals who were rested for the South African trip plus academy players.

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In addition, those staff and players cleared from quarantine at midnight on Saturday may be added to the bench at late notice.

However, both Welsh regions have scarcer resources so it is no surprise that several reports have suggested that Scarlets looked to have their second-tier game against Bristol postponed.

Meanwhile Cardiff, who only returned from South Africa on Saturday, appear to face the toughest task of the three when they face defending champions Toulouse live on Channel Four on Saturday.

The result of any conceded games will be 28-0 should any of the teams decide it cannot field a team.

 

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