A bruising week for the Heineken Champions Cup got even worse on Friday when tournament officials EPCR were forced to postpone the Scarlets versus Toulon match shortly before the planned kick-off at Parc y Scarlets.
The Scarlets players were going through a workout on the pitch 75 minutes before kick-off, but Toulon had not arrived at the stadium and television equipment was being packed away when confirmation came through that the round two match was indeed off.
Scarlets won their opening round match last weekend at Bath, after which one of their players tested positive for Covid-19. That finding led to the cancellation on Thursday of Bath’s trip to La Rochelle as many of their squad were self-isolating.
However, despite Toulon travelling to Wales to fulfil their Scarlets, reservations about the safety of the French squad took hold on Friday and EPCR were eventually forced to postpone the match.
An EPCR statement read: “EPCR have been informed that RC Toulon believe that this Friday’s Heineken Champions Cup round two fixture against Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets cannot be played in a sufficiently safe manner for their matchday squad and staff.
?Communiqué de Presse – SCARLETS / TOULON : Des conditions sanitaires non réunies pour la tenue du match.https://t.co/n9xgKuDaBT
— RCT – RC Toulon (@RCTofficiel) December 18, 2020
“Following confirmation by Scarlets that one of their players tested positive for Covid-19 after last weekend’s round one match against Bath, the player self-isolated in accordance with public health guidelines and his two close contacts were not selected in the matchday squad for the Pool A fixture against Toulon.
“A medical risk assessment committee was convened earlier today to consider any potential issues in relation to Scarlets’ testing and tracing, and it was satisfied that the risk of further transmission had been contained before recommending that the match could go ahead safely.
“On learning of Toulon’s concerns regarding the fixture, it was suggested that the match could be postponed to a later date in the weekend to allow any of the club’s players to opt-out of the match if they wished to do so.
“It was also suggested that Toulon could source willing players from their existing tournament squad to replace those who had withdrawn and that the Scarlets matchday squad could undergo additional PCR testing. These offers were rejected by RC Toulon, and EPCR can therefore confirm that the match is postponed.”
Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney said his squad had been ready and waiting to play the game. “We were ready to go, and the Toulon guys have decided they did not want the game to go forward,” Delaney told BT Sport.
“It’s back with EPCR now, who have supported the game to go ahead, so we are here awaiting further news. We had a matchday 23 ready to go and we were looking forward to the game. They [Toulon] will have their reasons for their decision and I’m not here to contest their reasons. What we rely on is EPCR’s guidance.”
The eleventh-hour call-off is the latest blow to the tournament as four round two matches have now been called off – Scarlets vs Toulon, La Rochelle vs Bath, Toulouse vs Exeter and Glasgow vs Lyon.
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 18, 2020
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