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Newcastle stopped from going to Toulon following trip to Biarritz

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Last weekend’s trip to Biarritz has had a disappointing consequence for Newcastle as this Saturday’s Challenge Cup round four match at Toulon has been cancelled after the Gallagher Premiership club this week recorded nine positive Covid-19 tests. 

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The Falcons’ round three trip to France had been in doubt until just the day before the January 14 fixture when it was confirmed by the French Government that they were loosening the strict travel regulations regarding people coming into their country. 

Newcastle has insisted they wouldn’t travel to Biarritz if they had to observe a 48-hour pre-game quarantine period and also hold a round of PCR testing while they were in France. Their fear was that anyone who tested positive would be left stranded and have to isolate for a ten-day period. 

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Racing coach Mike Prendergast guests on Le French Rugby Podcast
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Racing coach Mike Prendergast guests on Le French Rugby Podcast

With those stipulations eventually waved, Newcastle flew into Biarritz last Friday on the morning of their game and they proceeded to win 17-13 but they won’t now be returning to France this weekend as the legacy of the last week’s trip has been a large virus outbreak in the following days back home.

A Newcastle statement read: “The EPCR Challenge Cup Pool A fixture between Toulon and Newcastle at Stade Felix Mayol, scheduled for Saturday evening, has been cancelled. 

“Following Newcastle’s trip to Biarritz on January 14 the club has recorded nine positive Covid-19 tests. As a result, Public Health England, who also sought external advice on the matter, have advised the club not to travel to France for Saturday’s game. A match result resolution committee will be convened as soon as practicable to determine the outcome of the match.” 

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Newcastle boss Dean Richards added: “It is bitterly disappointing news because we had been looking forward to this important fixture between the two unbeaten teams in our group. We understand it will be frustrating for those supporters who were planning to travel out to France, or who had already done so, as well as those looking forward to watching on TV.

“We have taken on board all the relevant advice from Public Health England and unfortunately it just wasn’t possible for us to fly out to France and play the game in a safe manner.”

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