the Toulouse-Cardiff match canceled, French rugby denounces “arbitrary decisions”

The captain of the XV of France, Antoine Dupont, here on December 11, 2021, is one of the players of the Toulouse Stadium who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Misunderstanding in the ranks of French rugby. Referring to the health risk linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organizer of the European Cup decided, on Friday January 21, to cancel the Toulouse-Cardiff match and to declare the defending champion losing on the green carpet. Stade Toulousain nevertheless considered itself able to play, despite a significant number of contaminations in its ranks.

The captain of the XV of France, Antoine Dupont, is one of the Toulouse players who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, club president Didier Lacroix confirmed on Friday.

The sporting consequences of this decision are not negligible for Toulouse. Before the start of the fourth and final day of the group stage, the five-time European champion, beaten 28-0 on the green carpet, no longer has his destiny in his hands. The successes of their Pool B rivals, in particular Castres and Wasps at Harlequins and Munster, two teams already qualified, could deprive them of the round of 16.

A “completely unacceptable” decision

Furious, the president of the Toulouse stadium, Didier Lacroix, denounced in a long speech a decision “completely unacceptable” Who “calls into question the credibility of the mode of operation of the EPCR [European professionnal club rugby] », the organizing body for European competitions.

He considers his club, five times winner of the trophy, victim of“unfair” and D’“disrespect” while he was according to him “able to play” Saturday against the Welsh. “What I find incredibly outrageous is that the EPCR does not apply the rules that have been laid down,” he charged.

The health protocols in force in each championship should normally apply in the European Cup to the clubs concerned. Namely, for France, to have 23 players, including at least six front line and 15 professionals, so that a match can be held. Criteria met by the Haut-Garonne club, according to the starting XV revealed on its social networks even before the scheduled time in order to better show its ability to play the match in front of its public.

“Today we feel anger”, reacted the players of Toulouse in a press release. “EPCR flouts the rules and condemns us to a defeat on the green carpet for no valid and admissible reason. The injustice that inhabits us is equal to our frustration. »

The organizer of the European Cup “cannot afford to make arbitrary decisions that are contrary to its own rules”, reacted in a press release the president of the National Rugby League René Bouscatel, in solidarity with the Toulouse Stadium, which he chaired for a long time.

“Who benefits from the crime? »

The EPCR justified its decision to cancel the match by “a significant number of positive results” to SARS-CoV-2 in the Toulouse workforce and a “additional risk of contamination having been deemed too great”.

“Who benefits from the crime? », asked Didier Lacroix, accusing the organizing body of favoritism towards the British and Irish teams, a recurring reproach on the French side for several years.

Another French club, Bordeaux-Bègles, was declared a 28-0 loser on the green carpet after its meeting in Leicester, scheduled for the next day, was canceled on Friday due to SARS-CoV-2 contamination. A less penalizing decision for the UBB, already mathematically qualified for the knockout stages of the European Cup.

The Toulouse Stadium case should be brought to court. “This decision is legally challengeable”, said Didier Lacroix. “Not for sporting reasons, because the damage has already been done, but for economic reasons. And because there is a total lack of respect. »

The four home games Toulouse were due to play in recent weeks, against Wasps, Stade Français, Montpellier and now Cardiff, have all been postponed or canceled due to Covid-19.

A big financial shortfall for the club, which was to play the first two sold out, and a hard sporting blow since the postponed Top 14 matches were rescheduled during the Six Nations Tournament, which will deprive it of many internationals.

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The World with AFP


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