The rules seem to be getting made up as we go along.
The Heineken Champions Cup returns, this weekend, and, as of today, all fixtures in round three of the pool stages are set to go ahead. The waters are calm, for now.
Montpellier have been dealing with a Covid outbreak in and around their senior squad but their weekend clash with Leinster is still slated for Sunday afternoon.
Back in December, fresh off their opening win over Bath, Leinster themselves were hit by a raft of positive Covid cases. Leo Cullen was still able to name a 23-man match-day squad, and the team received medical clearance from the Irish government to play. Still, the EPCR awarded the tie as a 28-0 win to Montpellier.
On the same week, Ospreys informed the tournament organisers they could not put a match-day squad out against Racing 92, in Paris, and the French side were also awarded a 28-0 result and the five bonus points that came with it.
Then, further muddying the already murky waters, the French government stepped in to prevent travel for any English teams into their country and also stopped their Top 14 sides from travelling to the UK. The EPCR postponed those games but a fixture back-log now looks likely to see a compromise that will rub many clubs, and fans, the wrong way.
Hopes for Leinster and Ospreys’ matches being played look slim
The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup games from round two of the pool stages now look to be all placed in the record books as draws, and will not be played at a later date.
It has been reported in The Times that all seven postponed games from last month – five in the Champions Cup and two in the Challenge Cup – are set to be recorded as 0-0 draws, with both sides being awarded two points. Here are the seven matches:
HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
- Bath Rugby v La Rochelle
- Sale Sharks v ASM Clermont Auvergne
- Scarlets v Union Bordeaux-Bègles
- Stade Toulousain v Wasps
- Stade Francais Paris v Bristol Bears
EPCR CHALLENGE CUP
- Worcester Warriors v Biarritz Olympique
- London Irish v CA Brive
With those postponed games set to be squared off in the official record books, the hopes of Leinster and Ospreys to play their games against Montpellier and Racing 92 appear to have been snuffed out.
Sale and La Rochelle are both in Pool A with Leinster. Were they to get the two points awarded, Leinster would drop to seventh in the standings after two rounds of pool matches. Connacht would drop from fourth to sixth in Pool B if Toulouse and Bristol are awarded two points.
Official confirmation should arrive before this weekend’s games, but it should be noted that there is uncertainty over those involving teams from the UK and France again. Several English clubs, for example, have expressed concerns over strict French Covid protocols and isolation periods required when travelling to play there.