Shane Williams has claimed that the Welsh sides have been “shafted” in the Heineken Champions Cup after it was decided that their games could not be postponed.
Cardiff, Scarlets and Ospreys have all been heavily affected by Covid-related issues in recent weeks in the Champions Cup, which led to the forfeit of two matches and an understrength Cardiff side taking on Toulouse and Harlequins.
Scarlets felt compelled to forfeit their match against Bristol Bears, as they felt it was unsafe to play the match without the bulk of their squad who were forced to quarantine after returning from South Africa, and had their request for a postponement denied.
The Ospreys were forced to forfeit their match against Racing 92 after a number of positive Covid-19 cases in their squad, while Cardiff had to play a number of academy players in their two matches as the bulk of their squad was in quarantine.
Shane Williams on the Welsh regions in the Champions Cup.
Former Wales and Ospreys winger Williams was writing in his column for the Rugby Paper and argued that the three Welsh regions have been particularly hard done by in the last couple of weeks by the EPCR.
“European rugby is in chaos and it’s hard to escape the feeling that the Welsh sides have had the rough end of the stick in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup,” Williams wrote.
“Three of the Welsh regions – Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets – have been shafted by the decision making of European rugby bosses. It’s all an absolute mess.”
However unfortunately due to the new travel measures introduced between the UK & France the following #HeinekenChampionsCup matches previously scheduled for this weekend have been postponed ? pic.twitter.com/fnZrz8LO45
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 17, 2021
Anger at different approaches taken to cancelled matches by the EPCR.
Before both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup began, the EPCR said that postponements would not be possible, and that teams would have to forfeit if they were unable to fulfil a fixture as scheduled.
That led to the cancellation of three matches in the Champions Cup and one in the Challenge Cup, but following the French government’s decision to ban non-essential travel between the UK and France, seven games across the two tournaments were postponed.
This has led to anger from the teams who were forced to forfeit matches, with Leinster set to appeal the EPCR’s decision to award Montpellier a 29-0 win against them, according to The Irish Times.
It is not yet clear if either Scarlets or Ospreys will appeal their cancelled games, although Scarlets’ chairman, Simon Muderack, has called on his side’s game against Bristol Bears to be rescheduled.