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Scarlets can feel most aggrieved by Heineken Champions Cup cancellations

Scarlets Champions Cup

Major credibility issues surround the current season of the Heineken Champions Cup, as a number of fixtures in the first two rounds have been either postponed or cancelled.

The pandemic has continued to wreak havoc on sporting fixtures throughout the world and European club rugby is no different, as eight of the Champions Cup’s 24 fixtures have been cancelled so far.

Tournament organisers had at first decided that all games that had to be called off were to be cancelled, with the team not at fault for the cancellation awarded a 28-0 bonus point win.

This was the case for Scarlets’ first round fixture against Bristol Bears, as well as for the Montpellier vs Leinster and Racing 92 vs Ospreys games in the second round of the tournament.

Five matches have been recorded as 0-0 draws.

However, following the announcement of a travel ban between France and the UK, all fixtures affected were postponed, while the previous called off fixtures remained as 28-0 losses for one unlucky side.

The EPCR announced yesterday that they had decided to cancel those originally postponed games, but have decided to record each result as a 0-0 draw, which is sure to draw the ire of teams who were forced to accept a 28-0 loss.

Although most of the games that resulted in a 28-0 forfeit were as a result of too many Covid-19 cases in the losing team’s squad, the same cannot be said for the Scarlets’ forfeited match against Bristol.

The Scarlets felt they had no choice but to forfeit their opening fixture, as the bulk of their squad was was due to exit quarantine in Belfast the day before their game against Bristol.

The Welsh club deemed that it would be unsafe to field a team made up of players who had either just finished quarantine where they could only train in their individual hotel rooms, or select academy players and call-ups from the semi-pro Welsh Premiership.

UK government decision, not Covid cases, led to Scarlets’ forfeit.

The reason for the bulk of the Scarlets’ squad being in quarantine was through no fault of their own however, as the UK government announced that people arriving from South Africa must isolate for 10 days on their return, while their squad was already in South Africa.

Simply put, the Scarlets were forced to forfeit their match against Bristol and take a 28-0 loss due to a decision made by the UK government, while several French clubs who could not fulfil their Champions Cup fixtures due to a decision made by the French government saw their matches recorded as 0-0 draws.

One of those cancelled fixtures was between the Scarlets and Bordeaux Begles, which the Welsh club were able to fulfil, while the French club were not, but each club was awarded two points following EPCR’s recent decision.

The Scarlets can still qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, as winning their last two pool games should see them progress to the last 16, but they can certainly feel hard done by so far, without having played a game in the tournament.

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