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Leinster statement: Province 'disappointed' with walkover decision

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Leinster have outlined their disappointment with the EPCR decision to cancel their Friday night Heineken Champions Cup match at Montpellier and give the French side a 28-0 walkover win. Virus outbreaks at both clubs had dominated the build-up to the round two match but both clubs named their teams on Thursday and Leinster were all set to fly out from Dublin on Friday morning. 

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However, that trip has now been binned after EPCR took action, awarding Montpellier a victory that has left Leinster unhappy. An EPCR statement read: “Following a meeting of an independent match risk assessment committee, EPCR has been advised that the Champions Cup fixture between Montpellier and Leinster cannot go ahead safely. 

“The contest in Pool A is therefore cancelled with Montpellier awarded the match on a 28-0, five-match points basis, in accordance with the tournament rules. 

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“The match risk assessment committee, made up of medical doctors from EPCR’s medical advisory group as well as an independent medical specialist with experience in virology, advised EPCR of its concerns following new positive Covid-19 test results from the Leinster playing squad and regrettably the decision was made to cancel the match.

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

It was at 18:01 on Thursday when EPCR made public their decision and Leinster, who began their campaign with a win over Bath last Saturday, quickly responded, issuing their own statement ten minutes later at 18:11. “Leinster management has expressed its disappointment with EPCR over the decision to award a 28-0 win in Montpellier’s favour.

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“The Leinster squad and staff have had five rounds of antigen tests and four rounds of PCR tests in the last six days and a group of players and staff, who have all come through each stage of those tests, had been selected to represent the club in France on Friday evening and arrangements made accordingly.

“As a result of these test results and the measures implemented by Leinster, a letter was issued today [Thursday] from Public Health Ireland confirming that the group could travel to France for the game. At all times Leinster have complied with all measures and protocols required of the club by EPCR, and by the HSE, and will continue to do so.

“While we are disappointed with the outcome of today’s decision by EPCR, our focus now is the health and well-being of all our players and staff and we would like to put on record, as a club, our sincere thanks to John Ryan and all the medical team supporting those players and staff.” 

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