LONDON – England’s non-cap match against Barbarians on Sunday has been cancelled after some players breached Covid-19 quarantine rules, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said in a statement on Friday.
Several Barbarian players had left their hotel rooms without the permission of the organisers this week, prompting the RFU to conduct a review on whether the game can be held safely.
The RFU said the discovery of a further breach of Covid-19 protocols had given it no choice but to cancel the game.
“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,” an RFU statement said.
“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.”
RFU chief Bill Sweeney said he was “incredibly disappointed” that the fixture was cancelled but that the priority was the health and safety of the England squad and the other international teams they will go up against this Autumn.
“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,” he said.
The Barbarians said they were extremely disappointed with the conduct of their players involved in the protocol breach.
Eddie Jones’ England were hoping to get some game time this weekend at Twickenham ahead of their final Six Nations game in Italy on October 31.