Scarlets forfeit Champions Cup game against Bristol Bears

The game was set to be played at Ashton Gate on Saturday
The game was set to be played at Ashton Gate on Saturday
©Steve Haag

Scarlets have forfeited their opening game of the Heineken Champions Cup against Bristol Bears due to Covid-19 crisis.

The Welsh regional side along with Cardiff, Munster and Zebre were forced to return from South Africa after their United Rugby Championship fixtures were cancelled due to concerns over the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The 32-member squad are currently in a 10-day quarantine period in Belfast and are confined to hotel rooms. With their quarantine period ending on 10th December - a day before the game against Bristol - the players were left with very less time to train.

As a result, the club were left with 14 players to select for the fixture comprising of seven senior players and seven development players.

Even though, Ospreys and Dragons had planned to loan players for Scarlets for the weekend's game, EPCR refused to relax the rules which currently does not allow players representing one team to be part of another team during the remainder of the European campaign leaving Scarlets out of options for the matchday squad.

"The welfare of our players has to be our priority and following discussions with our staff it was felt that there was too much risk to ask the players currently in quarantine to play a game of this magnitude and intensity just a day after coming out of quarantine.

"You have to remember, the squad have been in isolation since the news of this Omicron variant first emerged when they were still in Durban so it will be something like 15 days in all.

"It is a decision we haven't taken lightly," said chairman Simon Muderack.

"This is a great fixture between two great clubs, which supporters, players and staff on both sides were all looking forward to."

"Also, a lot of the players haven't played since the Benetton game on October 22. As a club we have a duty of care to our players."

He added: "We did look into the possibility of registering players from other regions and we have been grateful for the positive response from Ospreys and Dragons.

"But, any players we did loan would effectively be 'cup-tied' and become Scarlets players for the pool stages of the tournament, which has made that option a challenge as well.

"With the integrity of the competition in mind, we felt we were unable to put together a competitive matchday 23 that would be able to take the field against the Bears."

Earlier, Scarlets had urged the European organisers to consider postponing the games that were affected due to Covid-19 but their request was turned down due to logistical reasons.

 

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