Leinster’s round-of-16 Champions Cup match against Toulon has been called off, the EPCR has confirmed.
The fixture was set to take place at the RDS Arena on Friday but a positive test in the French side’s squad has forced its cancellation.
The Toulon matchday squad are already in Dublin for the game and, although the EPCR must still officially confirm what happens next, Leinster are expected to advance to the quarter-finals.
An EPCR statement said: “The Committee, which received independent medical advice from Dr Brendan Payne (England) and Dr Daniel Koch (Switzerland), was informed that an RC Toulon player, who did not travel to Ireland, had tested positive for COVID-19 as part of the club’s routine testing.
“Although the RC Toulon players and staff who had travelled undertook an additional round of PCR testing in Dublin yesterday (Thursday 1 April) which revealed no positive results, the Committee concluded that there were a number of high-risk contacts with the player who had tested positive and deemed the match unsafe to play with the participation of those identified contacts.
“Having been notified of that position, RC Toulon informed EPCR that they could not select a match day squad to safely fulfil the fixture.
“Having explored all possible alternative arrangements to facilitate the staging of the fixture, it was decided that the match could not be played safely given both the current public health guidelines in Ireland and EPCR’s COVID-19 protocol.
“A Match Result Resolution Committee will be convened as soon as practicable to determine the outcome of the fixture.”
Toulon president Bernard Lemaitre expressed his unhappiness over the whole situation.
“It’s disgusting, the player tested positive on Wednesday and immediately isolated,” he told Midi Olympique.
“The EPCR was immediately informed, but let us go to Dublin. For more than 24 hours. And despite a total negative re-test of the players last night at 8pm, these people made this decision less than five hours before the match.”
The French club also released a strong statement, saying: “The Rugby Club Toulonnais learned this Friday April 2, 2021 with amazement of the decision of the EPCR to cancel tonight’s meeting in Leinster due to the presence of a positive case of COVID-19 in the Red & Black workforce.
“While the PCR tests carried out on the entire workforce on Monday, March 29 and all had negative results, the tests carried out on Wednesday, March 31 revealed a positive case, that of a frontline player of RCT.
“In accordance with the protocol, the leaders of RCT then immediately notified the EPCR and the National Rugby League. The player in question was placed in solitary confinement.
“The EPCR responded a few hours later to ask further questions of the RCT doctor. The latter then answered the entire questionnaire submitted.
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) April 2, 2021
“The EPCR then made the request to have a “contact tracing” of the player in question. The RCT provided it as soon as possible, specifying that the departure for Ireland was set for Thursday morning (April 1).
“The EPCR then analysed, with the support of an independent doctor, the “contact tracing” file provided by RCT. At the end (Thursday afternoon), the EPCR asked the club to carry out a new PCR test on the entire Red & Black workforce present in Ireland.
“These tests were therefore carried out last night in the Irish capital and all the results came out negative.
“Finally, the EPCR considered this Friday morning (a few hours before the match), that all the frontlines were considered as contact cases and that they could not take part in the match, offering the possibility of shifting the meeting on Sunday on condition of replacing the six frontline players. An obvious sporting impossibility.
“This is once again proof of the errors linked to the organisation of European competitions. The EPCR let the players and staff go to Ireland, prepare for the match, only to deprive them a few hours before kick-off from participating in this major event.
“Rugby Club Toulonnais strongly deplores this decision and sends its thoughts to all its supporters who were impatiently awaiting this meeting.”