Lyon, Toulouse and La Rochelle were declared the enhanced winners (28-0) by forfeit for the 2nd day of the European Cup, their opponents not being able to present a team for reasons of health security related to Covid-19, a decided the organizer this Friday, December 18
On the other hand, the EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby) has decided to postpone the match between the Scarlets, who have a player positive for the new coronavirus, and Toulon who refuses to play in Llanelli (Wales) for this reason. In what was the most salivating poster of the weekend, spoiled by the pandemic with 4 matches out of 12 canceled or postponed, Toulouse is therefore full of points in the standings (5) against Exeter (0), like Lyon against Glasgow and La Rochelle against Bath.
Before the start of the day on Friday, La Rochelle takes the lead in pool A (9 points) like Toulouse and Lyon in pool B (10). An excellent operation, without effort, for these three French clubs on their way to the quarter-finals.
If the EPCR clarified the situation of these three matches by giving the loser, unsurprisingly, the clubs which “were unable to field a team due to the unavailability of many players placed in isolation“(Glasgow and Bath) or having”several positive cases of Covid-19“(Exeter), the fate of Scarlets-Toulon is still unclear.
Toulon refused to play on Friday due to a positive case in the Welsh province, as the medical risk assessment committee found that “the risk of further transmission had been contained“. But the organizer decided to postpone the meeting rather than cancel it, with no prospect of compromise with the Toulonnais or a free date in an already very busy schedule.
The European Cup pays the price of the coronavirus
Already three cancellations plus a postponement after cases of Covid-19 and this from the second day: the 2020-2021 edition of the European Rugby Cup, revised and corrected to adapt to the health context, looks gray afterwards have barely started.
The EPCR, organizer of the competition, has decided to postpone the match between the Scarlets and Toulon, scheduled for Friday evening in Llanelli, after the withdrawal of the French club, worried about a case of Covid-19 in the Welsh ranks.
Faced with the “concern” of the RCT, the organizer made several suggestions to avoid a postponement: postpone the meeting to Sunday to allow any Toulon player to withdraw from the scoresheet, allow the Var club to field volunteer players from its squad to replace those who have retired and subject the Scarlets to new tests. “These proposals were declined by RC Toulon and the EPCR is therefore able to confirm that the match is postponed.“, wrote the organizer in a press release, without specifying a new date.
Contacted by AFP, the director general of the EPCR Vincent Gaillard “strongly deplores the decision of Racing Club de Toulon not to play a match that seemed to us
playable on a health plan“. “Everything necessary was done to confirm that this match could be played unlike the other three“, he insisted, referring to the cancellations, previously, of the Toulouse-Exeter, Glasgow-Lyon and La Rochelle-Bath meetings.
Scheduled for this weekend, the three matches were canceled after cases of Covid-19 contamination in the British ranks and the French clubs each obtained a success (28-0) on the green carpet, with an offensive bonus point. It remains to find a date to organize the meeting between the Scarlets and the Toulonnais. Not an easy task as the schedule is busy. After having discussed it with the director general of the EPCR Vincent Gaillard, the president of the Var club Bernard Lemaître considered that “the sanitary conditions were not met to maintain the organization of this meeting, the health of the players, the staff and their families being essential“, explained the RCT in a statement.
This is the first voluntary withdrawal from a club after the cancellations of the three matches by the organizers.
Four French clubs still mobilized
The EPCR had however modified the formula of its flagship competition to limit club travel and thus, he hoped, limit the risks of the spread of the new coronavirus. “I regret that four matches are not played this weekend“, commented Vincent Gaillard.”It is not yet worrying for the whole competition, especially since we had a very good first weekend.“, he nuanced.
After a 2019-2020 edition exceptionally completed in October, due to the health context, the competition was divided into two pools of 12 teams with four matches – two at home, two away – to be played for each of the clubs in the first tower. Which gives this group stage an air of knockout stage. Toulouse, Lyon and La Rochelle having each won their first match, they take a big step towards the next level with this second success.
got him on green carpet.
Despite the cascading upheavals of this second day, four French clubs are still mobilized on this second day. Montpellier faces the Wasps on Friday night in England. Bordeaux-Bègles and Clermont must receive the Dragons and the Munster respectively on Saturday. As for Racing 92, finalist of the 2020 edition, it goes to the Harlequins lawn on Sunday.