Scarlets forfeit Champions Cup match due to 'physical risk' to isolating players


Scarlets have forfeited their European Champions Cup pool game against Bristol this weekend after the coronavirus crisis forced their players into quarantine, tournament organisers announced on Tuesday.

The European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has confirmed a 28-0 scoreline in Bristol's favour and an award of five match points to the Premiership club.

The Scarlets currently have 32 players in quarantine at a Belfast hotel after flying home last week from South Africa, which is on the British government's coronavirus red list.

They had been due to play two United Rugby Championship fixtures there.

"EPCR have been informed by Scarlets that due to player welfare concerns and the club's inability to safely field a matchday 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," said an EPCR statement.

"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."

Fresh travel restrictions were imposed by Britain on South Africa following the discovery of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Scarlets' trip to Bristol was scheduled to take place just a day after they were due to finish their 10-day isolation period and they urged EPCR to reconsider its position on the rescheduling of European matches.

A club statement said: "Following discussions between Scarlets management, coaches, players and medical and conditioning staff, the overwhelming feeling was that it would be a physical risk to select any of the 32 front-line squad members who are currently in quarantine."

"At present, we have 14 fit Scarlets players training at Parc y Scarlets -- seven senior players and seven development players," the club added.

"We would like to thank the Ospreys and Dragons for their offer of assistance but, unfortunately, we have been unable to put together a match-day squad that can safely take the field against the Bears."