The Scarlets, in quarantine, and Cardiff, still stranded in South Africa with players in the grip of “panic attacks”, are demanding the postponement of their first Champions Cup meetings. The European competition should start in eight days …
How can we imagine that the Cardiff team could host Stade Toulousain on Saturday 11 December to launch the Champions CUp? The Welsh are indeed still stranded in South Africa. 42 players and staff members – the six positive cases for Covid-19 remain isolated in a hotel in Cape Town to continue their quarantine – were to fly out this Thursday morning. A third attempt again postponed. “Due to restrictions on inbound flights to the UK and the withdrawal of a landing slot, we were unable to take off this morning (Thursday). We are now planning to leave Cape Town tomorrow morning (Friday).»
Welsh press reports panic attacks and mental health issues among players
This plane is heading to Dublin, where the group will have to take a connecting flight to England, where they will spend their quarantine in a hotel, the Welsh authorities refusing to do so in Cardiff. The Welsh press relays the dissatisfaction of the leaders of Cardiff with this refusal and, above all, reports “concerns about the well-being of players», Reporting panic attacks and mental health problems…
Also this Thursday, the Scarlets, yet returned to Wales on Sunday, asked that their first meeting, next Saturday in Bristol, be postponed, for lack of… fighters. The leaders of the Llanelli team have indeed explained in a press release that “ 32 players under 10-day quarantine in Belfast“. Adding that only 14 players are training elsewhere, but only 7 from the professional team, the others being hopes. And stressing that with a quarantine ending on December 10, the day before the match, it will be impossible for the players to be ready and in shape to play this European meeting.
According to EPCR rules, if the Scarlets were unable to field a team it would result in a 28-0, 5-point victory for Bristol. An outcome that the executive chairman of the Welsh team, Simon Muderack, does not want. “We have to find a fair solution because giving up the game for something that was beyond our control would not be fair. Neither of us had any idea that this was going to happen and that South Africa was going to be put on the red list. We wanted to support the new league (United Championship Rugby, bringing together Celtic, Italian and South African teams, Editor’s note) by sending our best available team to South Africa. That we are penalized for this really does not suit me… The EPCR must first take into account the well-being of the players!»