Newcastle’s European fixture against Toulon cancelled due to Covid-19 issues

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Newcastle’s European Challenge Cup game against Toulon on Saturday has been cancelled due to coronavirus cases at the Gallagher Premiership club.

Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby said Newcastle had informed them they were not in a position to fulfil the fixture at Stade Felix-Mayol.

The Falcons said nine positive Covid-19 tests had been recorded following Newcastle’s European Challenge Cup trip to Biarritz seven days ago.

As a result, Public Health England has advised Newcastle not to travel to France.

Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards said: “It is bitterly disappointing news because we had been looking forward to this important fixture between the two unbeaten teams in our group.

“We understand it will be frustrating for those supporters who were planning to travel out to France, or who had already done so, as well as those looking forward to watching on TV.

“We have taken on board all the relevant advice from Public Health England, and unfortunately it just wasn’t possible for us to fly out to France and play the game in a safe manner.”

Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors – Gallagher Premiership – Kingston Park
Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards (Richard Sellers/PA)

EPCR said that a match resolution committee will now be convened to determine the outcome of the game.

Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup game between holders Toulouse and Cardiff in France has been cancelled following a number of positive Covid-19 tests in the hosts’ camp.

EPCR said that Cardiff had been awarded the match by a 28-0 scoreline with five match points.

It leaves Toulouse’s hopes of reaching the knockout phase hanging by a thread.

They currently occupy seventh place in Pool B – a position good enough to progress – but they could now miss out if other results go against them this weekend.

And it also puts Cardiff in the qualification picture, which is remarkable in itself after they tackled Toulouse and Harlequins before Christmas without numerous players due to quarantining in South Africa – where they had been due to play two United Rugby Championship fixtures – and on their return to the UK.

In a statement, EPCR said: “Following a meeting of an independent match risk assessment committee, EPCR has been advised that the Heineken Champions Cup, round four fixture between Stade Toulousain and Cardiff Rugby scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, 22 January) at Stade Ernest-Wallon cannot go ahead.

“Discussions with Stade Toulousain and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby took place before the match risk assessment committee, made up of medical doctors from EPCR’s medical advisory group as well as independent medical specialists, advised EPCR of its concerns as Stade Toulousain had recorded a significant number of positive Covid-19 test results from within its tournament squad.

“And with the risk of further infection deemed to be too great, regrettably the decision was made to cancel the fixture.”

The Cardiff squad and management had not left Wales, with their scheduled charter flight from Cardiff Wales Airport being cancelled on Friday morning.

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