Rugby-La Rochelle, Toulouse, Lyon handed wins in Champions Cup

Rugby-La Rochelle, Toulouse, Lyon handed wins in Champions Cup

REUTERS: French clubs La Rochelle, Toulouse and Lyon were each handed a 28-0 victory and five match points in the second round of the Champions Cup after their games were called off due to COVID-19, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said on Friday.

La Rochelle's game against Bath, which was scheduled for Saturday, was called off after Bath were unable to field a team with 12 of their players isolating following a positive COVID-19 test at Scarlets, who they played last weekend.

Defending champions Exeter Chiefs' game against Toulouse on Sunday was cancelled after a number of Exeter players and staff tested positive for COVID-19 and were unavailable to travel to France for the match.

The positive tests at Exeter also had a knock-on effect with Glasgow Warriors' match against Lyon on Saturday also being cancelled after the Scottish side's players went into self-isolation following their match against Exeter over the weekend.

"EPCR would like to emphasise that blame was not considered as a factor during the deliberations, and the committee’s decisions were made with a view to facilitating the completion of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup in unprecedented circumstances," EPCR said in a statement.

Earlier, Toulon pulled out of Friday's Champions Cup game against Welsh side Scarlets due to safety concerns over a Scarlets player testing positive for COVID-19.

Scarlets told the EPCR that after one of their players had tested positive for the virus following last weekend's game against Bath, the infected player self-isolated and two of his close contacts were not named in Friday's squad against Toulon.

The action satisfied league organisers but not Toulon, who were scheduled to face Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli at 1730 GMT.

"A Medical Risk Assessment Committee was convened earlier today to consider any potential issues in relation to Scarlets’ testing and tracing, and it was satisfied that the risk of further transmission had been contained before recommending that the match could go ahead safely," EPCR said in a statement

"On learning of RC Toulon's concerns regarding the fixture, it was suggested that the match could be postponed to a later date in the weekend to allow any of the club's players to opt out of the match if they wished to do so.

"It was also suggested that RC Toulon could source willing players from their existing tournament squad to replace those who had withdrawn and that the Scarlets matchday squad could undergo additional PCR testing.

"These offers were rejected by RC Toulon, and EPCR can therefore confirm that the match is postponed."

EPCR did not reveal a decision on Toulon's postponed game against Scarlets.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: Reuters