The RFU has today cancelled the Quilter Cup England v Barbarians fixture scheduled for Sunday 25 October.
As part of its ongoing investigation into a breach of the Covid code of conduct that took place on 21 October, the RFU has today discovered there was an earlier undisclosed breach that took place on 20 October when a number of Barbarians players left the hotel bubble without permission and without informing organisers about their whereabouts.
The RFU has concluded that the players leaving their Covid-secure environment on 20 October without then isolating from the rest of the group on their return has resulted in the bubble environment being compromised, with the potential risk of Covid transmission from individuals outside the bubble to everyone in the Barbarians team and management.
The RFU is therefore left with no alternative but to cancel the game.
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “We are incredibly disappointed to be calling a halt to this fixture, we know how much fans were looking forward to seeing the teams play. However, our priority is to protect the health and safety of the England squad and the other international teams they will go up against this Autumn. There has been a great deal of effort put into Covid codes of conduct and planning for games, including cooperation with Premiership Clubs to release additional players to fulfil the fixture safely, and we are all incredibly frustrated and disappointed that the actions of a number of Barbarians players mean we no longer feel it is safe for the game to go ahead.”
The RFU investigation is ongoing and no details on individuals or numbers of players involved will be confirmed until the investigation is concluded.
STATEMENT FROM RFU ENDS
World Rugby applies 50/22 law trial globally, bolster concussion protocol
World Rugby announced on Wednesday five law trials which will start next month, including a so-called “50/22” kicking adaptation.
The 50/22 change allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half.
The rule was used in recent Super Rugby tournaments and its primary intention is to “encourage the defensive team to put more players in the backfield, thereby creating more attacking space and reducing defensive line speed”, according to the sport’s governing body.
The other laws to come into force on a temporary basis from August 1 include a goal-line drop-out if the ball is held up in the in-goal area, if there is a knock-on from an attacking player in the same area or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal.
There are also restrictions on attacking players latching onto team-mates from a ruck and clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs at the breakdown.
The final trial allows for a one-player latch before contact, but the individual must “observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet”.
World Rugby has also moved to strengthen concussion protocols, with independent specialists set to review cases when Test players return to action after a head injury.
They will launch a panel of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) to provide expert opinion on whether players are ready to return to action after head knocks.
The global governing body will fully fund the process for Test-level competitions, with ICCs asked to rule when players look to return to action 10 days or fewer after a concussion or on players deemed higher risk due to previous head-injury history.
Lions name team to face Sharks
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) and Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales) will make their Lions debuts on Wednesday evening when the tourists take on Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park (kick off 6pm BST).
The game, which will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports, is the second of eight Tour matches in the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series which culminates with three Tests against World Champions, the Springboks.
“It’s a quick turnaround from Saturday, but we’ll be ready to go by Wednesday night,” said Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland.
“I’m pleased we managed to come through the weekend’s game unscathed, and the boys have rested and recovered well. We feel like we’re slowly building, but, as ever, there’s still room for improvement in all facets of our game.
“Wednesday night is another chance for us to have a look at a few more combinations. I’m looking forward to seeing how the back row goes; it’s an exciting mixture and one that we hope will offer something a bit different.
“We expect another physical test against a side who are known for their power play and ambition.
“My congratulations to Tom, Josh and Adam ahead of their first starts in a Lions jersey.”
The Lions opened their 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series with an eight-try victory over Sigma Lions.
CELL C SHARKS v THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) #837
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #848
4. Iain Henderson – Captain (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales)
6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England)
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849
16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
18. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
20. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839
21. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
22. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
Wednesday 7 July 2021. Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg, Kick-off: 6pm (BST)
London Irish announce Springbok Prop
Marcel van der Merwe has signed on the dotted line with London Irish!
The experienced prop has put pen to paper on a deal with Declan Kidney’s side and will join up with his new team-mates ahead of the start of the 2021/22 season.
The 30 year-old South African international – who has seven Springbok caps to his name – joins from La Rochelle, whom he joined on a short-term deal earlier this year.
Speaking about his arrival at the Exiles, van der Merwe expressed his delight, commenting: “I’m very excited – it’s a new chapter in my career.
“London Irish are a Club that are moving in the right direction, so it’s an exciting opportunity for me. The timing feels right.
“I’ve played English teams quite a lot throughout my time in France, so I know what to expect of the league and everything it throws up. I can’t wait to get going with London Irish.”
Director of Rugby, Declan Kidney, added: “Marcel is a key addition to the squad ahead of the start of the 2021/22 season.
“He will bring great experience and quality to our pack and will complement the existing players we’ve already got in the forwards.
“We’re really pleased that he has decided to join the Club and we’re looking forward to him joining up with us in August for his pre-season.”
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Ulster to play Saracens in Pre-Season doubleheader.
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