Rugby Union in Covid chaos as Leinster vs Montpellier is cancelled

Rugby Union descends into Covid CHAOS as Leinster’s European Cup clash with Montpellier is cancelled as the French government closes its UK borders… meaning more fixtures could follow if EPCR bosses fail to find a solution

  • Leinster and Montpellier’s Champions Cup clash on Friday has been scrapped
  • The Irish club forfeited the tie 28-0 after being deemed unable to safely fulfil it
  • Other games could follow after France closed their UK borders due to Omicron
  • Teams need urgent clarity given it costs £75,000 to travel abroad in Europe

European Rugby is engulfed in more Covid chaos with a whole round of Champions and Challenge Cup fixtures under threat, as clubs face gaping financial black holes if the games are mothballed.

Friday night’s European Cup match between Leinster and Montpellier was the first of round two to be cancelled on Thursday – and swathes of others could follow after the French government effectively closed their borders to the UK due to rising Omicron cases here.

Leinster said they were ‘disappointed’ that Montpellier were awarded a 28-0 forfeit win, after the discovery of ‘new positive test results’ at the Irish province, as there was Covid in both camps and they were cleared by their government to play having been through nine rounds of tests this week.

Six more Champions Cup games, and three in the second-tier Challenge Cup, are also on a knife-edge as the French government ruled that from Friday night no one from France can enter or leave the UK without ‘an essential reason to travel’, whether unvaccinated or vaccinated. 

Leinster and Montpellier’s Champions Cup clash on Friday has been scrapped

Leinster (player Robbie Henshaw pictured) forfeited the match 28-0 after being deemed unable to safely fulfil it due to Covid-19

Last night European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) met with French club bosses to try and thrash out whether elite sport would be exempt from this new ruling and days of quarantine.

If not Bath v La Rochelle, Sale v Clermont, Racing 92 v Ospreys, Scarlets v Bordeaux, Toulouse v Wasps and Stade Francais v Bristol in the Champions Cup would all have to be cancelled, as well as Dragons v Lyon, Worcester v Biarritz, and London Irish v Brive in the Challenge Cup, throwing both tournaments into disarray.

Most teams with Saturday games are flying on Friday, so need urgent clarity. And whether the fixtures are completed or not they all face huge bills.

Sportsmail understands it costs a team around £75,000 to attend an away match in Europe now, with Covid tests for around 45 players and staff, hotel rooms and return chartered flights.

Scarlets were unable to play Bristol last week, after emerging from isolation following a nightmare trip to red-list South Africa, and the Bears lost £300,000 due to refunded tickets and missed match-day revenue.

‘More teams potentially will face that this week,’ said their boss Pat Lam.

‘It’s going to take its toll at a time when right across the clubs there’s not much money at all. If games are cancelled lots of clubs will take big hits.’

Meanwhile, Bristol confirmed England and Leicester prop Ellis Genge will join next season. It is understood Sale will reveal the signing of Exeter lock Jonny Hill next week.

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