It’s not often that someone’s cough trends on Twitter, but in the topsy turvy world of the pandemic, that’s where referee Romain Poite and his nasty cough have found themselves.

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Poite is refereeing Clermont and Racing 92’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final match, but unusually, it wasn’t his refereeing that was drawing attention on social media. While officials along with players, are regularly tested for coronavirus, ref mic picked up Poite coughing repetitively, leading many to surmise that the Frenchman might have an undiagnosed case of the respiratory illness.

The 45-year-old could be clearly heard coughing violently, and even hawking up and spitting out phlegm in the second half.

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Scotland scrumhalf Ali Price wrote: “No doctor but Poite doesn’t scream health to me right now.”

Former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton suggested he shouldn’t have come out for the second half: “Poite might/shouldn’t come out for the 2nd half. If he was school kid he wouldn’t be allowed back until… you know, he had a test. Just saying.”

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Ex England international Andy Goode posted: “Thinking that the whole of the Racing 92 match day squad will have to go into isolation after Romain Poite has been constantly coughing all game! So could next weeks Champions Cup semi final with Saracens be in jeopardy?!”

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Already this weekend, Castres have had to withdraw from their Challenge Cup quarter-final with Leicester Tigers scheduled for tomorrow at Welford Road. If Poite does Test positive, it could cause a serious issue for next weekend’s match.

It is the second time in three years that the two have met at this stage. Since Leone Nakarawa inspired Racing to victory that day en route to the 2018 final, Clermont have been faultless in front of their own fans in Europe with eight consecutive wins.

That is the only Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final in which both clubs are looking to add their names to the tournament’s Roll of Honour for the first time. Of the 13 European Cups shared between the quarter-finalists, five are held between Toulouse and Ulster Rugby.

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