England’s match against the Barbarians at Twickenham this weekend has been called off after the RFU discovered a fresh breach of coronavirus regulations by Baa-Baas players while investigating another breach.
The governing body was investigating an incident on Wednesday in which the former England captain Chris Robshaw was among a number of the Barbarians’ players to leave the team hotel to visit a restaurant.
During the process the RFU discovered a further breach on the previous day, when players left the Covid-secure environment of their hotel and failed to isolate on their return.
Bill Sweeney, the RFU’s chief executive, 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 added in a statement that it had “no alternative but to cancel the game”.
It read: “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… The RFU investigation is ongoing and no details on individuals or numbers of players involved will be confirmed until the investigation is concluded.”
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