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EPCR statement: Northampton eliminated from the Champions Cup

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Sunday’s match in Paris featuring Racing 92 and Northampton has become the third of the twelve planned round four Heineken Champions Cup matches to get cancelled after EPCR intervened on Saturday to scratch the game from its schedule and award the points to the French club.   

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A statement read: “EPCR has been informed by Northampton Saints that they have recorded a number of positive test results for Covid-19 among their tournament squad and, as a consequence, the club is not in a position to fulfil its Champions Cup round four match against Racing 92 scheduled for Sunday.

“The Pool A fixture at Paris La Defense Arena is therefore regrettably cancelled with Racing 92 awarded the match on a 28-0, five-match points basis in accordance with the tournament rules.

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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – a Lion and Wasp
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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – a Lion and Wasp

“EPCR would like to acknowledge the efforts of both clubs to fulfil the fixture and would also like to reiterate that awarding the match to Racing 92 is a tournament management measure with the objective of ensuring that all fixtures in the 2021/22 Champions Cup are accounted for, and not a sanction.”

The decision put Racing five points clear at the top of Pool A and all but guaranteed them the top seeding from that group for the round of 16 as Ulster would have to beat Clermont in Belfast by a cricket score on Saturday to deny them top billing.

Racing versus Northampton is the third round four match to fall foul of cancellation and the decision has extinguished the hopes of Northampton qualifying for the round of 16 stage of the tournament as they needed to win in Paris and hope some other results went their way in order for them to progress. The Saints tweeted, “Best wishes for the rest of your season” shortly after Racing had posted, “Dear Northampton Saints, we wish a quick recovery to those affected. Good luck.”

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Elsewhere, the Pool B Saturday matches that were to feature Leicester versus Bordeaux and Toulouse versus Cardiff were both cancelled on Friday. While there was no dissension over the Leicester cancellation as both clubs involved were qualified and Leicester will now finish as that group’s top seed, there was uproar in Toulouse that they were told they couldn’t play despite naming what they insisted was a fit and healthy matchday 23.

With Cardiff awarded a 28-0 win, the defending champions threatened legal action against EPCR as the decision to give all five-match points to the Welsh region put the qualification of Toulouse for the round of 16 stage in jeopardy and they needed a last-gasp try from Harlequins to ensure Castres didn’t get the win in London that would have elevated them above their French rivals.

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