Last updated on 32 minutes ago32 minutes ago.From the section Rugby Union
Scarlets’ Heineken Champions Cup match at home to Toulon on Friday has been called off less than two hours before kick-off.
Toulon pulled out because of concerns about a Scarlets player testing positive for Covid-19 after playing against Bath last weekend.
The Welsh side withdrew the player and his close contacts from training before naming their side to face Toulon.
The action satisfied European rugby organisers but not Toulon’s management.
The French club’s decision to pull out came as a shock to the home side, who arrived at their Parc y Scarlets home as normal around two hours before the scheduled 17:30 GMT kick-off on Friday.
Bath’s match with La Rochelle was called off because the English club said they had 12 players self-isolating after being in close contact with the Scarlets player last weekend.
It is understood European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) and the Scarlets offered Toulon a postponement until Sunday to allow the Scarlets squad to be re-tested for coronavirus.
Toulon reject that option. A club statement read: “Rugby Club Toulonnais learned this Thursday, 17 December that at least one player from the Scarlets team had tested positive, earlier this week, for Covid-19.
“Following this, the Bath Rugby Club, which had faced the Scarlets last weekend, were forced to forfeit the second day of the Champions Cup because 12 players in their squad had been in ‘close contact’ with this Welsh player.
“Despite this eminently delicate context, the EPCR, with the approval of the Welsh Rugby Union, wished to maintain the Scarlets / Toulon match.
“President Bernard Lemaitre spoke extensively with EPCR Director General Vincent Gaillard.
“He specified that the sanitary conditions were not met to maintain the organization of this meeting the health of the players of the staff and their families being paramount.
“The EPCR nevertheless upheld its decision.
“Faced with this state of affairs, the Rugby Club Toulonnais, although aware of the serious consequences, decided not to play this meeting as planned this evening.”
An EPCR statement read: “Following confirmation by Scarlets that one of their players tested positive for Covid-19 after last weekend’s Round 1 match against Bath Rugby, the player self-isolated in accordance with public health guidelines and his two close contacts were not selected in the matchday squad for the Pool A fixture against RC Toulon.
“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.
“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 EPCR testing.
“These offers were rejected by RC Toulon, and EPCR can therefore confirm that the match is postponed.”
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