Saracens forfeit Pau Challenge Cup trip after Covid-19 cases

Lausanne (AFP) – Saracens have forfeited this weekend's European Challenge Cup match at Pau due to an outbreak of coronavirus in the English side's set-up, tournament organisers said on Wednesday.


The French club have been handed a victory for the second round game in the second-tier competition originally scheduled for Saturday.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said in a statement from its Lausanne headquarters that Saracens had informed them of a "significant number" of positive Covid-19 tests among their playing squad, meaning they could not safely fulfil the fixture.

"The Pool C fixture at Stade du Hameau is therefore cancelled with Section Paloise awarded the match on a 28-0, five match points basis, in accordance with the Tournament Rules," EPCR announced.

"EPCR would like to emphasise that awarding the match to Section Paloise is a tournament management measure with the objective of ensuring that all fixtures in the 2021/22 EPCR Challenge Cup are accounted for, and not a sanction," it added.

Saracens are featuring in this season's Challenge Cup after returning from the English Championship this term following relegation from the Premiership due to salary cap rules breaches.

Saracens said that the squad would return to full training on December 24 ahead of a Premiership fixture against Worcester on Boxing Day.

In the Champions Cup last weekend, Bristol Bears were handed a 28-0 win over the Scarlets after the Welsh region lacked first-team players due to a quarantine upon their return from South Africa.

Leinster's trip to Montpellier this Friday in the top-tier tournament is in doubt with both outfits registering Covid-19 cases.