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Scarlets call on EPCR to postpone their upcoming Heineken Champions Cup match

Scarlets

Scarlets have called on the EPCR to postpone their upcoming Heineken Champions Cup encounter with Bristol Bears.

32 Scarlets players are currently in quarantine in Belfast, as there are no quarantine facilities in Wales, having returned from South Africa following the identification of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant in the country.

The club have stated that they currently have 14 players training at Parc Y Scarlets, seven of whom are senior members of the squad, while the other seven are on development contracts.

The group of Scarlets players currently in quarantine are due to finish up their isolation period in Belfast the day before the game against Bristol.

But the club are concerned about the welfare of those players if they are to play having not trained as a team for quite some time.

To field a 23-man squad against Bristol without using any of the players who travelled to South Africa, the Scarlets would have to select nine players from either their academy or semi-professional clubs linked to the Welsh region.

Under the EPCR’s current rules, if Scarlets cannot field a team, a 28-0 victory will be awarded to Bristol, which could seriously damage the Welsh side’s chances of progression in the tournament.

Scarlets’ statement on their game against Bristol Bears.

Scarlets Executive Chairman Simon Muderack has released a statement, calling on the EPCR to consider postponing the fixture.

“If we were to play Bristol without the people who are in Ulster right now there are four or five positions where we physically do not have a body to fill that position,” Muderack said.

“We are not coming out of quarantine until December 10 and a lot of these boys in Belfast haven’t played a game of rugby since October 22.  EPCR has got to look at player welfare here.

“Without the 32 players in quarantine, we’d have to play development players and academy players – some of them just out of school in their first season of senior rugby – as well as semi-pro players, who juggle their rugby commitments with full-time work and put them up against a quality side like Bristol.

“That wouldn’t be good for the integrity of the competition or those individuals.”

Fears over ‘under done’ quarantining players.

Muderack went on to explain that he is concerned that the players currently in self-isolation could suffer injuries against Bristol, if they play the day after their quarantine period ends.

“At the moment, the best the players can do in their hotel in Belfast is exercise as individuals within the confines of their own rooms as well as being allowed a short time slot outside to walk around in the car park,” Muderack explained.

“That is no preparation for a high-intensity game of European rugby.  In our world, physical capacity is everything.

“If players are ‘under done’ it can be catastrophic for careers and have a direct increase to risk of injury.

“The Scarlets have a proud history in European competition and we have been looking forward to testing ourselves against two sides in Bristol and Bordeaux who have been up there among the best on the continent in recent years.

“It is hugely disappointing that we will not be allowed to do that on a level playing field.”

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