Professional rugby club Europe has relaxed its player registration rules in response to the plight of the four parties stranded in South Africa but insists there is no free weekend to deal with. postpone the game.
CardiffMunster the Scarlets and Zebre Parma have both faced difficulty leaving the country after their United Rugby Championship matches were postponed following the imposition of new travel restrictions due to the emerged a new coronavirus variant.
The majority of Munster and Zebre players and staff have since returned to Ireland and Italy respectively to complete their isolation period, but Scarlet remains holed up in a quarantine hotel just outside Belfast and Cardiff remains. waiting to fly out of Cape Town .
Scarlets called on the EPCR to reconsider its stance on the rescheduling of Heineken Champions Cup matches, with 32 of its players currently in quarantine.
The Wales region will play their league opener in Bristol on 11 December, just a day after the end of 10 days of isolation.
A Scarlets statement said: “Given the Welsh Government ruling that teams arriving in South Africa must see the full 10-day quarantine period at a quarantine hotel outside Belfast, Scarlets is appealing to its organisers. European league EPCR reconsidered their position on rescheduling matches. ”
However, EPCR released a statement of its own later on Thursday, announcing an option for all teams to augment their teams with an unlimited number of previously unregistered players in the game. when all of that eliminates the possibility of scheduling a match.
“After consultation with federations and federations, it has been decided to extend the first registration date from last month to allow all participating clubs to replenish their teams with unlimited number of previously unregistered players,” reads the statement.
“All new players will have to register on or before Wednesday, December 8 at noon (UK and Ireland time).
“With no alternative weekends in the 2021/22 season calendar, EPCR is in regular dialogue with federations and clubs to ensure that all possible measures are considered in order for matches to take place. on schedule.
“While looking forward to a host of other exciting pool-stage matches, EPCR takes note of how recent events have affected Cardiff Rugby, Munster Rugby, Scarlets and Zebre Parma in particular, and The tournament organizers would like to send their best wishes to the players. and the staff are still in South Africa, as well as the players and staff who have been repatriated and are currently in quarantine. “
Teams that are unable to complete their Champions League matches may be subject to cancellation according to the strict rules of the tournament.
However, such a stance was criticized last season after a number of coronavirus-related cancellations saw the responsible clubs lose 28-0.
Executive chairman Simon Muderack said on the Scarlets website: “If we were to play Bristol without the guys at Ulster right now, there’s four or five positions that we don’t have the body to fill. .
“We won’t come out of quarantine until December 10 and a lot of boys in Belfast haven’t played a rugby game since October 22. EPCR has to look at the welfare of the players here. .
“Without the 32 players quarantined, we would have had to play development players and academy players – some of whom have just graduated in their first senior rugby season – as well. as semi-pro players who juggle their full rugby commitments. -times work and put them head-to-head against a quality party like Bristol.
“That wouldn’t be good for the integrity of the competition or those individuals.”
Muderack is adamant that Scarlet should have been granted “sports immunity” to train in Northern Ireland while the team remained isolated.
He said players were only allowed a short daily stroll around the hotel car park and the risk of injury to unprepared players could be “a career disaster”.
Ospreys head coach Toby Booth said their neighbors Scarlets had contacted them to ask if they had any players.
“They asked for seven or eight,” Booth told a news conference ahead of the Ospreys’ home URC game against Ulster.
“We are here to help because it is important that we see the bigger picture here. It would suit us giving everyone a chance to play in a reputable game.
“The boundaries are definitely softer when you have to do backup planning to that extent, so it’s about everyone in the tent coming together, helping each other and taking care of each other.
“Obviously we need player approval and the EPCR needs to agree that people are not bound by the way they play, but hopefully common sense will prevail and we can keep everyone going. player.”
Cardiff’s tour group of 42 players and staff will fly out of Cape Town on Thursday after making a similar trip to South Africa.
All of those in that group tested negative for coronavirus, but six more who tested positive were transferred to an isolation hotel in South Africa.
However, Cardiff wrote on their official Twitter account on Thursday: “We can confirm that due to restrictions on flights to the UK and the revocation of landing seats, we have could not take off this morning.
“We now plan to depart Cape Town tomorrow morning. Thank you for all your support.”
The 10-day quarantine period upon arrival in the UK – the team intend to serve their quarantine period in the UK – has put their Heineken Champions Cup opener against Toulouse and the Harlequins in jeopardy.
But rugby director Dai Young says Cardiff will “do everything in our power” to get it done.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/european-professional-club-rugby-south-africa-cardiff-munster-parma-b1968732.html Champions Cup player registration rules relaxed but no delay