Scarlets demand European Champions Cup opener is rescheduled after 10-day hotel quarantine

Scarlets demand European Champions Cup clash is rescheduled after being told they must play at Bristol a DAY after coming out of 10-day hotel quarantine following their flight home from South Africa

  • Scarlets were forced to fly home early from South Africa amid Covid crisis
  • They are quarantining for 10 days in a Belfast hotel until December 10
  • The Welsh region are due to play Bristol in Champions Cup on December 11 
  • If they forfeit the fixture Bristol are awarded five points and a 28-0 win 

Scarlets have pleaded for their Champions Cup opener against Bristol next Saturday  to be postponed, with 32 members of their squad in hotel quarantine until December 10 – the day before the fixture.

The Welsh region had to fly home early from South Africa this week due to the escalating Covid-19 crisis in the country after their two United Rugby Championship fixtures against Sharks and Bulls were postponed.

With Scarlets having sent a full-strength squad to South Africa who will not have trained for two weeks come next weekend, they are left with just 14 available players to play Bristol – and seven of those are development players. 

As things stands, they would need to find nine players from their academy or semi-professional clubs in the region to fill their squad and avoid forfeiting the fixture, which would see Bristol awared five points and a 28-0 win.

Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler is among the 32-man squad quarantining in a Belfast hotel

‘If we were to play Bristol without the people who are in Ulster right now there are four or five positions where we physically do not have a body to fill that position,’ chariman Simon Muderack told BBC Sport.

‘We are not coming out of quarantine until December 10 and a lot of these boys in Belfast haven’t played a game of rugby since October 22. EPCR [European Professional Club Rugby] has got to look at player welfare here.

‘Without the 32 players in quarantine, we’d have to play development players and academy players – some of them just out of school in their first season of senior rugby – as well as semi-pro players, who juggle their rugby commitments with full-time work, and put them up against a quality side like Bristol.

‘That wouldn’t be good for the integrity of the competition or those individuals. None of us had any idea that this situation was going to occur, and that South Africa was going to be put on the red list.’

Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack has pleaded with EPCR not to punished the club

Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack has pleaded with EPCR not to punished the club

Cardiff, who also had to fly home early from South Africa, are able to put a squad together for their clash against Toulouse on December 11 having left six Wales international at home – and Muderack feels that Scarlets should not be punished for sending a strong team to South Africa.

He added: ‘The URC is a new league and what we are trying to do is support the league’s aspirations by sending our very best available team to South Africa to perform as best as we can. That’s us doing the right thing by the league and rugby.

‘For us to get penalised for that really doesn’t sit very well with me and we need to find a fair solution because forfeiting the game for something that was out of our control isn’t right.’

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