Scarlets forced to forfeit Champions Cup opener after Covid outbreaks
Munster are still set to face Wasps on Sunday.
In a decision that could well impact upon Munster and Cardiff's hopes of fielding teams for this weekend's Champions Cup, Scarlets have forfeited their game against Bristol Bears.
All three sides, along with Italian club Zebre, were in South Africa to fulfil United Rugby Championship fixtures when the Omicron strain of Covid-19 was discovered. There were positive Covid cases confirmed in all three squads and issues with getting them flights out of South Africa.
"Regrettable" Scarlets forfeit
Scarlets initially flew into Belfast and there was serious red-tape to negotiate before players could get back to Wales to continue with quarantines. They were set to kick off the Champions Cup with a Friday night game against Bristol, but that is not going ahead now. An EPCR statement reads:
'EPCR have been informed by Scarlets that due to player welfare concerns and the club’s inability to safely field a match-day squad, they are not in a position to fulfil their Heineken Champions Cup, Round 1 fixture against Bristol Bears scheduled for Saturday, 11 December at Ashton Gate.
'The fixture in Pool B is therefore cancelled with Bristol Bears awarded the match on a 28-0, five-match points basis, in accordance with the Tournament Rules.
'Scarlets, Bristol Bears and EPCR used their best endeavours to stage the match. However, this has not been possible and it is regrettable that the fixture is now cancelled."
'EPCR acknowledges the unfortunate circumstances that have impacted on Scarlets’ players and staff through no fault of their own and would like to emphasise that awarding the match to Bristol Bears is a tournament management measure to ensure that all fixtures in the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup are accounted for.'
The decision means Scarlets will now sit on '0' points going into the next round of pool games, while Bristol are on 5 after being awarded the bonus point win.
Cardiff are holding a press briefing today while Munster are planning to go ahead with a match-day squad, on Sunday, made up of academy players and Ireland internationals that did not travel to South Africa after the Test window.