Toulouse and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby have both denounced the EPCR’s decision to cancel the French club’s Heineken Champions Cup encounter with Cardiff.
Cardiff have been awarded a 28-0 bonus-point win against Toulouse, as the EPCR made the decision to cancel the game, based on the number of Covid-19 cases in the reigning European champion’s squad.
However, Toulouse had named a match-day squad to play Cardiff and insist they were able to fulfil the fixture, much like Leinster did when the EPCR cancelled their game against Montpellier and awarded a 28-0 victory to their opponents.
The French and European champions are now in danger of going out of the Champions Cup, if other results don’t go their way this weekend.
Toulouse president Didier Lacroix expressed his thought’s through the club’s Twitter account and claimed that the EPCR have shown a total lack of respect towards the club.
— Stade Toulousain (@StadeToulousain) January 21, 2022
Toulouse president Didier Lacroix fumes over EPCR decision.
“To understand our frustration today, you have to go back to the second day of the Champions Cup, postponed and then cancelled, against Wasps. We were set to receive the English in a full stadium and the decision forced us to cancel,” Lacroix said, translated from French.
“There followed the postponement of the match against Stade Français, the very morning of the match, on December 26. This day would have been a rugby party with our dear public. The lifting of the gauges allows us to postpone it to 11/02, still at the Stadium.
“During this period, we have not complained about the postponements during the doubles and the Six Nations Tournament because we are proud to contribute to the success of the XV of France. Even if it adds difficulty to the preparation of the matches.
“The cancellation of the match against Wasps by the EPCR implies great economic but also sporting losses since a draw was inflicted on us. But we knew that the Covid-19 was coming to us and were not fooled.
“During each day, we respect the protocols to the letter and never a postponement or a cancellation has been our responsibility. We apply an even stricter protocol through Jérôme Cazalbou and our medical staff.
“This week, the cases of Covid-19 are falling on us, through players who, out of common sense, have themselves tested, proof of their professionalism. On Thursday, the number of our cases was significant.
“We have adapted our training week so that our players benefit from separate dressing rooms and individual sessions. However, today we are able to present a negative and competitive team.
“Once again, all our players and our staff are professional. We are able to defend our colours with a reduced team but we can play. The players aligned with the team composition revealed this morning are negative.
“I have the greatest respect for Cardiff but a 0-28 win on our home turf, through that decision, is unfair. We cannot play this weekend against the Welsh, while our team is negative.
Cardiff Rugby have been awarded a 28-0 Heineken Champions Cup victory over current title-holders Stade Toulousain.
— Cardiff Rugby (@Cardiff_Rugby) January 21, 2022
“The decision to cancel the match and Stade Toulousain’s loss to Cardiff was disrespectful. EPCR warned Cardiff before us, disregarding our arguments: A superior Covid-19 protocol, a negative team.
“Let’s not blame doctors for a final decision. They advise and the authorities make the decisions. I wonder how our previous encounters in Cardiff and Wasps were more secure than tomorrow’s encounter.
“I’m not saying that everything is done against Stade Toulousain. The first decision to cancel the second day is detrimental for a lot of clubs. But our defeat on green carpet during this fourth day is unacceptable.
“We will go to court against this decision because we are witnessing a total lack of respect. We are playing a competition in which its organiser must justify himself, in many decision-making.
“I want to defend my players today. For five weeks we have not respected them. Their daily lives are flouted and their work is not rewarded. They are not given the opportunity to reward themselves.
“I also want to apologise to our audiences. To the Stade Toulousain family, to whom I no longer know what to answer today, in view of this unacceptable decision. We are working to offer the possibility of postponing places, refunds.
“But today we cannot offer them the opportunity to come to the Stade Ernest Wallon to support their favourite players, because of an alleged mistake, which we did not make.
“We always respect the decision of a referee, from the moment the fault is committed, proven, and it goes against the rule. Today, we cannot accept losing because of ‘a respect for the rule.
“We are saddened because we have always respected this competition. We consider it the same as the Top 14, every year. I’m screaming loudly today but if we get through to the round of 16, we’ll play it 100 per cent.
“By training our players from rugby school, we are giving ourselves the means to have a strong, quality workforce with the capacity to compete in the European Cup. If they can play the European Cup, they can play against Cardiff.
“I am in the action and I am not in a political consideration. I carry the word of my club in the name of justice, so that the established rules are applied.
“The match day two draw is an interpretation of the EPCR rule. Today there is no interpretation. The rule is not being followed. We have six front row players and even more. We have 23 names to line up and even more.
“We can’t let this injustice pass. Not to mention our own case, many clubs have already been wronged and it’s time for that to stop. We’re talking about the credibility of this competition.
“Even if the EPCR does not speak of sanction in this decision-making, how can it be called otherwise? A defeat with an attacking bonus for Cardiff, on our ground, is of course a sanction.
“Until now, we were asked to suffer the absence of our opponents. Today, we suffer our own absence, for a non-existent fault.”
— Ligue Nationale de Rugby (@LNRofficiel) January 21, 2022
The LNR describe the EPCR’s decision as ‘scandalous’.
The Ligue Nationale de Rugby, which runs professional rugby in France, issued a statement about the cancellation of Toulouse’s fixture against Cardiff, claiming that the EPCR’s decision was “unfounded” and threatened to take legal action.
“Following the EPCR’s announcement to cancel the Champions Cup match between Stade Toulousain and Cardiff Rugby, the LNR denounces a scandalous and totally unfounded decision,” the statement reads, translated from French.
“Toulouse has put together a group of players to field a team capable of playing this match, in full compliance with the EPCR health regulations and the French health protocol. The EPCR Covid-19 protocol provides that the EPCR applies and defers to the protocol established by the league to which each club belongs, and sticks to the position of the medical authority of this league regarding the possibility for a club to play the match when positive cases are declared.
“In the case of Stade Toulousain, the LNR’s Covid-19 Expertise Committee communicated its position on Thursday evening January 20th to the EPCR, this position being that the club could play the match against Cardiff Rugby.
“The decision of the EPCR is therefore taken in violation of its own regulations. It is incomprehensible and seriously harms the club and the fairness of the competition.
“René Bouscatel, President of the LNR explains:
“‘The Champions Cup is a very prestigious competition; its organiser cannot afford to make arbitrary decisions that are contrary to its own regulations. This decision is irresponsible. I have decided to convene an LNR Steering Committee urgently to discuss the follow-up, including legal action, to be given to this decision.’”