LEINSTER LAST night were forced to forfeit Friday night’s Heineken Champions Cup pool match against Montpellier at the GGL stadium yesterday following a ruling by EPCR Rugby to award the french side a 28-0 win and 5 match points in conjunction with the rules.
This comes after three Leinster players tested positive for Covid-19.
It is reported that the players tested were “tested outside the PCR testing window. The players are said to have taken the tests outside Leinster's base at the training ground
The province tested 94 players, staff, and coaches with one further positive case coming from a member of staff. The four cases have gone into self-isolation.
Montepllier handed 28-0 walkover following new positive Covid-19 results in Leinster camp.
— Neil O'Riordan (@noriordan) December 16, 2021
Leinster played Bath last Saturday in the Champions Cup, notching a 45-20 bonus-point win ideally would have liked it to play.
Montpellier, the Top 14 side also had positive cases in their camp. Four positive tests came up next week, but the French side played Exeter in England last Saturday, suffering a 42-6 defeat.
A fifth positive Covid case during a round of testing on Monday came through on Tuesday. He went into self-isolation like the others.
Leinster announced on Tuesday that they had recorded an unspecified “additional number” of positive Covid cases, after postponing training. The rest of the squad were cleared by authorities to return to training at their base in UCD as Leinster returned to training on Tuesday, strict mask-wearing, social distancing for meetings, and extra productions took place as a result.
The EPCR met on Wednesday through virtual means to see what was happening between the two clubs as the game was going ahead as planned as both clubs were waiting for results of the final rounds of PCR testing.
Leinster came back with the 5th case after testing, bringing their positive case total to double figures. The French side didn't record another positive case
Leinster despite having cases were able to field a squad for the game as everyone of the 23 players named had completed five rounds of antigen tests and four rounds of PCR tests in the last six days without recording a single positive result.
"It seriously disadvantages them."@GerryThornley explains how the shortened pool format means Leinster's bonus point loss could have major ramifications later in the competition.
Watch in full: https://t.co/HwhZPRKfgd@VodafoneIreland #TeamOfUs pic.twitter.com/53g66o0Pdd
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) December 16, 2021
Leinster got the all-clear from Irish authorities to travel to France for the game. They even informed ECPR that they would be able to partake in the fixture, as did Montpellier.
Both submitted their matchday 23s and they were formally announced by EPCR at midday yesterday. It was all set to happen, but then another hurdle happened
EPCR’s Match Risk Assessment Committee – which is made up of doctors from EPCR’s Medical Advisory Group and an independent specialist with experience in virology - received both clubs testing data.
They decide if clubs can play or not and make the decision on medical grounds.
Their verdict was that it wasn't safe to proceed. That decision was communicated to the rugby branch of EPCR, whose job was then to decide where the match points should be awarded.
The EPCR’s decision fell in Montpellier’s favor. Montpellier have not reported a positive case since their testing on Monday, which tipped the result in their favor. Leinster however reported a new case, but it wasn't from the 23 traveling to France. The French side were awarded with a 28-0 win
ECPR told Leinster late of the ruling on Thursday afternoon with Leo Cullen's side left disappointed by the ruling. They felt the ruling was harsh after clearance from Public Health Ireland to depart for France was ratified.
They stressed that their named matchday squad and staff had all come through six days of stringent Covid testing without returning a single positive result.
Leinster made the point that calling the game a 0-0 draw would be a far fairer outcome if it could not go ahead.
EPCR stuck with their decision, announcing it at 6pm yesterday.
Leinster followed this up with a statement to say that they were ready to head to France after the Irish government gave the all-clear
Leinster still have Montpellier and away to Bath to come in January, but would have liked to play the French side
🔵 | The #LeinsterRugby team management have expressed their disappointment at the decision of EPCR to award a 28-0 win to Montpellier.
More: https://t.co/qQf3lOtu12#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/XP8stVPFht
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) December 16, 2021