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02nd Apr 2021

Toulon come out firing after Leinster match cancelled

Patrick McCarry


The three-time European champions have fired back.

Less than five hours before Leinster were set to face off against Toulon in a Champions Cup last 16 clash, word came through that the match was cancelled.

Tournament organisers EPCR confirmed the cancellation and left rugby supporters with a ‘more to follow’. Into that information vacuum strode Toulon, who fired off a strongly worded statement on the matter.

First up the important news, and an update that is set to see Leinster advance to the quarter finals of the competition, if an alternative date cannot be found for the game. A Toulon player from the senior squad returned a positive Covid test after testing was carried out before the squad set off for Dublin.

Although all of the squad that travelled to Dublin returned negative tests, on Thursday, it was deemed that the player who had been left at home had been a close and ‘high-risk contact’ of him.

The EPCR got back in touch with Toulon and asked if it was possible for the game to take place on Sunday if they could replace the six senior players that were deemed close contacts of their ‘positive’ teammate. The club informed the organisers it would be “an impossibility”. A statement on their website reads:

‘This is once again proof of the errors linked to the organisation of European competitions. The EPCR left the players and staff to go to Ireland, prepare for the match, only to deprive them a few hours before kick-off from participating in this major event.

‘Rugby Club Toulonnais strongly deplores this decision and sends its thoughts to all its supporters who were eagerly awaiting this game.’

A general view of stadium signage at the RDS Arena in Dublin, following the announcement that the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 match between Leinster and RC Toulon is cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 case. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

15 minutes later, the EPCR released a statement of their own. It reads:

‘Following a meeting by video conference of a Match Day Medical Risk Assessment Committee comprising medical leads from the unions, league bodies and both clubs, with input from the public health authorities in Ireland, it has been decided to cancel the Heineken Champions Cup, Round of 16 match between Leinster Rugby and RC Toulon which was scheduled for this evening (Friday 2 April) at the RDS Arena.

‘The committee, which received independent medical advice from Dr Brendan Payne (England) and Dr Daniel Koch (Switzerland), was informed that an RC Toulon player, who did not travel to Ireland, had tested positive for COVID-19 as part of the club’s routine testing.

‘Although the RC Toulon players and staff who had travelled undertook an additional round of PCR testing in Dublin yesterday (Thursday 1 April) which revealed no positive results, the committee concluded that there were a number of high-risk contacts with the player who had tested positive and deemed the match unsafe to play with the participation of those identified contacts.

‘Having been notified of that position, RC Toulon informed EPCR that they could not select a match day squad to safely fulfil the fixture.

‘Having explored all possible alternative arrangements to facilitate the staging of the fixture, it was decided that the match could not be played safely given both the current public health guidelines in Ireland and EPCR’s COVID-19 protocol.

‘A Match Result Resolution Committee will be convened as soon as practicable to determine the outcome of the fixture.’

So, as of this afternoon, Leinster are still awaiting news on whether they have advanced to the next round of the knock-out stages.


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