Defending champions Exeter have been dealt a potentially major blow in their bid to win back-to-back Champions Cup titles as their round two match this weekend at Toulouse has been cancelled. Exeter began their title defence in impressive fashion last weekend, swatting aside Glasgow on a 42-0 scoreline and generating huge hype about their round two trip to Toulouse.
That fixture was to be the second meeting between the teams in three months as they had clashed at Sandy Park in a September semi-final.
However, having superbly managed to handle their Covid situation en route to winning the Champions Cup/Premiership double by defeating Racing and Wasps in respective October finals, Exeter have now suffered a setback that has also affected Glasgow, the team they defeated last weekend.
An EPCR statement read: “EPCR has been informed that a number of Exeter Chiefs players and staff have tested positive for Covid-19.
“In accordance with public health guidelines, the club will not be able to send a matchday squad to fulfil its Heineken Champions Cup round two fixture against Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday, December 20. The Pool B match is therefore cancelled.
Defending champs @ExeterChiefs sent out a warning with a dominant Round 1 victory ?
Rob Baxter's men ran in six tries and prevented opponents Glasgow Warriors from registering a point ?
How impressive were they? pic.twitter.com/5z93oaotGi
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 14, 2020
“As Exeter Chiefs played against Glasgow Warriors in round one of the tournament, Glasgow Warriors have advised EPCR that many of its senior players are now self-isolating in accordance with public health guidelines. Consequently, the club is not in a position to field a matchday squad of the appropriate standard for its Heineken Champions Cup round two fixture against Lyon at Scotstoun on Saturday, December 19. The Pool B match between Glasgow and Lyon is therefore also cancelled.
“As per its Covid-19 protocol, EPCR will convene match result resolution committees to determine the results of the cancelled matches and the decisions of the committees will be communicated as soon as practicable.”
If a 28-0 defeat is awarded against Exeter, it will place them on the back foot in their quest to advance to the knockout phase as the truncated format to this year’s competition consists of only four group games.
The results of the week’s testing programme overseen by Premiership Rugby revealed 18 confirmed cases across two English clubs, a total made up of 16 players and two members of staff. Exeter declined to reveal how many of the positive tests have come from them.
All but three of Glasgow’s matchday squad that faced Exeter are self-isolating under guidance from Public Health Scotland. “With a significant number of players self-isolating and an extensive injury list, the decision has been taken that it is not safe to play on Saturday,” a Warriors statement said.
“Glasgow Warriors will now turn its attention to mitigating any further risks to its squad to protect the upcoming 1872 Cup fixtures against Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14.
“The club has reviewed the stringent Covid-19 protocols that it has put in place for its squad and commends its players and staff who have been exemplary in following these during this period.”
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