Rugby Union is forced to descend into Covid CHAOS after Leinster’s European Cup match with Montpellier was cancelled by the French government. If this fails, more fixtures may follow.

  • Leinster and Montpellier have scrapped Friday’s Champions Cup battle.
  • After being declared unsafe to fulfil, the Irish team forfeited 28-0
  • Omicron has led to the closure of UK borders by France. Other games might follow.
  • Teams need urgent clarity given it costs £75,000 to travel abroad in Europe

European Rugby has been engulfed by more Covid Chaos, with whole rounds of Champions and Challenge Cup fixtures at risk. Clubs also face financial disaster if these games are cancelled.

Friday night’s European Cup match between Leinster and Montpellier was the first of round two to be cancelled on Thursday – and swathes of others could follow after the French government effectively closed their borders to the UK due to rising Omicron cases here.

Leinster said they were ‘disappointed’ that Montpellier were awarded a 28-0 forfeit win, after the discovery of ‘new positive test results’ at the Irish province, as there was Covid in both camps and they were cleared by their government to play having been through nine rounds of tests this week.

Leinster and Montpellier's Champions Cup clash on Friday has been scrapped

Leinster and Montpellier have scrapped Friday’s Champions Cup battle.

Leinster forfeited the match 28-0 after being deemed unable to safely fulfil it due to Covid-19

After being declared unable to fulfil the requirement due to Covid-19, Leinster lost the match 28 to 0.

Six more Champions Cup games, and three in the second-tier Challenge Cup, are also on a knife-edge as the French government ruled that from Friday night no one from France can enter or leave the UK without ‘an essential reason to travel’, whether unvaccinated or vaccinated.

Yesterday night, EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby) met with French club leaders to discuss whether the new rule and quarantine would apply to elite sports.

Without Bath v La Rochelle and Sale v Clermont and Racing 92 Ospreys and Racing 92 Ospreys, Racing 92 and Racing 92 would have been cancelled. Also, the Champions Cup tournaments of Dragons v Lyon and Worcester v Biarritz and London Irish against Brive in Challenge Cup would also be cancelled.

Many teams that have Saturday games fly on Fridays, and it is urgent to clarify this. They will all be responsible for huge expenses, regardless of whether fixtures have been completed.

Sportsmail understands it costs a team around £75,000 to attend an away match in Europe now, with Covid tests for around 45 players and staff, hotel rooms and return chartered flights.

Scarlets were unable to play Bristol last week, after emerging from isolation following a nightmare trip to red-list South Africa, and the Bears lost £300,000 due to refunded tickets and missed match-day revenue.

‘More teams potentially will face that this week,’ said their boss Pat Lam.

‘It’s going to take its toll at a time when right across the clubs there’s not much money at all. If games are cancelled lots of clubs will take big hits.’

Bristol has confirmed that Ellis Genge, Leicester and England props will be joining next season. Sale is expected to announce the signing of Jonny Hill, an Exeter lock next week.