Friday, May 27

The fury of French rugby bosses when Cardiff awarded the walkover against Toulouse | Champions League


French rugby bosses condemned the decision to cancel Saturday’s Champions Cup clash between Toulouse and Cardiff as “scandalous and totally unfounded”.

Rene Bouscatel, president of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby that oversees France’s professional game, said LNR directors will meet “as a matter of urgency” when discussing possible legal action. The match, which was to be played in Toulouse, was canceled after a series of positive tests for Covid-19 at the hosts’ pitch. Tournament organizers European Professional Club Rugby said Cardiff had won the match 28-0 with five match points.

Leave Toulouse’s hopes of reaching the round of 16 hanging in the balance. They are currently seventh in Group B, a good enough position to progress, but could now miss out if other results go against them this weekend.

It also puts Cardiff in the qualifying draw, which is remarkable in itself after they faced Toulouse and Harlequins before Christmas without many players due to quarantine in South Africa, where they were due to play two United Rugby Championship games, and in his return to the UK.

Meanwhile, Toulouse named a team for the game and posted it ahead of Friday’s cancellation announcement. In a statement, LNR said: “Following EPCR’s announcement to cancel the Champions Cup match between Stade Toulousain and Cardiff Rugby, LNR condemns an outrageous and wholly unfounded decision.

“Toulouse has brought together a group of players to form a team fit to play the match, in full compliance with EPCR health regulations and the French health protocol. EPCR’s Covid-19 protocol stipulates that EPCR applies and differs from the protocol established by the league to which each club belongs, and adheres to the position of the medical authority of this league on the possibility of a club playing the match when is positive. cases are declared.

“In the case of Stade Toulousain, the NRL’s Covid-19 expert committee (LNR) communicated its position on Thursday evening, January 20, to the EPCR, this position being that the club could play the match against Cardiff Rugby. Therefore, the EPCR’s decision is made in violation of its own rules. It is incomprehensible and seriously harms the club and the fairness of the competition”.

Bouscatel added: “The Champions Cup is a very prestigious competition. Its organizers cannot afford to make arbitrary decisions contrary to their own rules. This decision is irresponsible. I have decided to call a meeting of the LNR board of directors as a matter of urgency to discuss the follow-up, including legal action, to be taken on this decision.”

The Cardiff team and management had not left Wales, and their scheduled charter flight from Cardiff Airport was canceled on Friday morning. EPCR said: “Discussions were held with Stade Toulousain and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby before the match’s risk assessment committee, made up of doctors from EPCR’s medical advisory group as well as independent medical specialists, informed EPCR of their concerns as Stade Toulousain had recorded a significant number of positive Covid-19 test results within their tournament squad, and as the risk of further infection was deemed too great, the decision was sadly made to cancel the meeting”.

Leicester’s Champions Cup match at home to Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday has also been cancelled. EPCR said that Bordeaux-Begles had registered a number of positive Covid-19 test results among the playing team and was not in a position to comply with the match. Leicester, who had already qualified for the knockout stage, also earned a 28-0 scoreline and five match points.

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Newcastle’s European Challenge Cup match against Toulon on Saturday was also canceled due to coronavirus cases at the Premiership club. EPCR said they had been informed by Newcastle that they were not in a position to meet the match at Stade Felix-Mayol. The Falcons said nine positive tests for covid-19 were recorded following the European Challenge Cup trip from Newcastle to Biarritz seven days ago. As a result, Public Health England advised Newcastle not to travel to France.


www.theguardian.com

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