The EPCR, which organizes European competitions, would have done well without this new threat.
With less than two weeks of the launch of the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup, the risks of postponement (or of lost matches) are great.
The reason ?
This season, the Celtic League changed its name to become the United Rugby Championship, including South African provinces.
However, this week, four European teams, the Welsh from Cardiff and the Scarlets, the Irish from Munster and the Italians from Zebra were in South Africa to play the 6th day of the RCU.
Four meetings obviously postponed with the appearance of the new very contagious variant of Covid-19, Omicron.
Scarlets and Italians in Parma were able to leave South Africa
These teams therefore tried to leave the country as quickly as possible, with the United Kingdom imposing a ban on non-essential flights from southern Africa on Sunday evening. While the Scarlets and Zebras of Parma were able to leave the country, the Irish from Munster and the Welsh from Cardiff were unable to board the same plane. At least one positive case in the workforce of the first, two cases, including one possibly with Omicron in the second. Both stranded in South Africa.
Munster Rugby will stay in Cape Town pending the next steps from the health authorities after a positive case during our last tests,
" explained the Irish province, staff and players being forced into isolation in their hotel. “
Cardiff Rugby is unable to leave South Africa after two positive cases for Covid-19, including one suspected of being the new Omicron variant
, for its part communicated the Welsh franchise.
The group had hoped to leave Cape Town this afternoon but PCR tests carried out last night revealed two positive cases.
“Same motive, same punishment…
The club continue to work with all relevant authorities to ensure the group's return to Wales when it is safe and appropriate
", added the Cardiff managers. The green light is likely to be slow in coming, Europe barricading itself by taking radical emergency measures to contain as long as possible the fifth wave which is starting to rise. And if they were to eventually be allowed to return home, they will have to observe a quarantine of at least two weeks upon arrival.
However, on the European program for the weekend of 10-11-12 December, we find traces of a Cardiff-Toulouse and a Wasps-Munster, but also of Bristol-Scarlets and Zebre-Biarritz.
Four matches that have very little chance of being disputed on the dates scheduled.
For a postponement.
Or a lost match for the four teams involved?
It is an understatement to say - Toulon, sanctioned with a match lost twice for refusing to face an opponent with positive cases in its workforce, can attest to this… - that the decisions of the EPCR have so far lack of clarity.