Wakefield boss Michael Carter says French vaccination stance could cause issues

·3-min read

Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter admits his club could be badly hit by the new Covid regulations introduced by the French Government which he believes could call into the question the integrity of the Super League competition.

The French parliament has given the go-ahead for its health pass to be converted into a vaccine pass, which means that anyone wishing to enter the country’s leisure, cultural and sports venues will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The government has indicated that exemptions will not be made for athletes who are based outside France so it could have an impact on rugby union’s Six Nations tournament in addition to Super League.

Wakefield Trinity v Catalans Dragons – Betfred Super League – Totally Wicked Stadium
A sign of the times as groundstaff disinfect goalposts at half-time during Wakefied’s fixture with Catalans Dragons (PA Images/Mike Egerton)

Huddersfield are due to visit newly-promoted Toulouse on the opening weekend on February 12 while Wakefield will be the first visitors to Catalans a week later.

“We’re having a meeting on Thursday about the whole Covid issue,” Carter told the PA news agency.

“I have got some players who are unvaccinated at this moment in time, so as I understand it, as of this morning they won’t be able to go and play in France.”

Carter says six players in his club’s 33-man squad have so far refused the vaccine but some of them may now agree to change their stance.

Carter added: “One of the questions I want to ask is if they were to decide to and get themselves their first vaccination, would that cover them? I haven’t seen the definition of what they are classing as vaccinated.

“I think I’ve got six out of our 33-man squad that are completely unvaccinated while some have had one jab, some have had two and some have had the booster as well.

“From the conversations I’ve had with those unvaccinated, a couple have intimated that, if they were to be in a position where they are actually missing games, then they would re-consider.

Toronto Wolfpack v Toulouse Olympique – Betfred Championship Summer Bash – Bloomfield Road
Toulouse Olympique are due to make their Super League bow on February 12 (PA Images/Richard Sellers)

“There are others that are adamant that they’re not having the vaccination so I won’t be changing their minds.

“That’s the stance they’ve taken. Whether I agree with their views or not, I’ve got to respect their personal choice but equally I have got a responsibility to make sure that we are fielding our best players for every single game. It’s not an easy balancing act.

“It will still be an issue for us when we travel to France in February.”

It is thought the numbers at Wakefield are representative of Super League as a whole, with between 80 and 85 per cent of players double-vaccinated.

The Rugby Football League says it needs that figure to reach 85 per cent before it will give the go-ahead for scrums to be re-introduced in the 2022 season. A decision on that could be made at Thursday’s meeting.

Carter believes the latest twist could have serious ramifications for the competition.

“It’s back to the old question of integrity of the competition because, if those rules change later in the season, teams could be allowed to travel with full-strength squads,” he said.

“I’m not saying the answers are easy because I don’t know them but hopefully more information is given out on Thursday as to where we are. It’s certainly not ideal as things stand at the minute.”

The two French clubs are due to meet with the RFL on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments.

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