Can’t say we saw this one coming.
On Monday evening, despite Leinster having named a 23-man squad including Carlow’s Ed Byrne, the Blues found out that their European Champions Cup game tonight with Montpellier was off.
This, despite having said 23-man squad cleared to travel by Public Health Ireland.
The awarding of the 28-0 victory to Montpellier is in line with tournament rules, according to the EPCR, is was done to ensure that all games this season are accounted for, as opposed to being a sanction on Leinster Rugby.
A statement from Leinster Rugby on Monday evening read
“The Leinster Rugby squad and staff have had five rounds of Antigen tests and four rounds of PCR tests in the last six days and a group of players and staff, who have all come through each stage of those tests, had been selected to represent the club in France tomorrow evening and arrangements made accordingly.”
“As a result of these test results and the measures implemented by Leinster Rugby, a letter was issued today, Thursday, 16th December 2021, to Leinster Rugby from Public Health Ireland confirming that the group could travel to France for the game.”
“At all times Leinster Rugby has complied with all measures and protocols required of the club by EPCR, and by the HSE, and will continue to do so.”
“While we are disappointed with the outcome of today’s decision by EPCR, our focus now is the health and well-being of all our players and staff and we would like to put on record, as a club, our sincere thanks to Prof. John Ryan and all the medical team supporting those players and staff.”
Per the EPCR,
“The Match Risk Assessment Committee, made up of medical doctors from EPCR’s Medical Advisory Group as well as an independent medical specialist with experience in virology, advised EPCR of its concerns following new positive Covid-19 test results from the Leinster Rugby playing squad, and regrettably the decision was made to cancel the match.”
EPCR would like to acknowledge the efforts by both clubs to fulfil the fixture, and would also like to emphasise that awarding the match to Montpellier is a tournament management measure with the objective of ensuring that all fixtures in the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup are accounted for, and not a sanction.”
O’Gara to Munster?
Meanwhile at Munster Rugby, the search for Johann van Graan’s successor continues, but it looks like it won’t be coming in the form of one legend of the province.
Ronan O’Gara has turned down the chance to coach at Thomand Park.
The former Ireland and Munster out-half has told the Irish Examiner that he will stay in charge of French club La Rochelle, where he is contracted until 2023.
Ulster in action
There is one game in the Champions Cup later.
In the competition tonight, Iain Henderson captains Ulster against Northampton at the Kingspan Stadium
Kick off in Belfast is at 8.