England’s RFU has cancelled the scheduled clash against the Barbarians following several breaches of the Covid code of conduct within the BaaBaas squad.
As part of its ongoing investigation into a breach of the code of conduct that took place on 21 October, the RFU stated on Friday that they had 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 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,’ a statement read.
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.
According to various reports in England, former skipper Chris Robshaw is among 12 Barbarians players to have committed the offence.