Toulouse president Didier Lacroix announced that the club is taking legal action after their Champions League game with Cardiff was forfeited and a 28-0 win was awarded to the Welsh team. The Covid-19 outbreak in the Toulouse camp meant the team was forced to forfeit the match. This situation is being hotly disputed by the Champions, as they say that they were still able to field a competitive team. There may be some merit in their argument, as there was a similar situation in the reverse fixture. On that occasion, Cardiff had a Covid-19 outbreak in their squad after their trip to South Africa. Most of their regular first-team players were Covid-19 positive or were in the isolation stage, but they still were allowed to honor their match against Toulouse. They played that match with a team full of Academy and Age Grade squad players, so the Toulouse camp wants to know why they were not given the same opportunity.
Group stage format under scrutiny
Covid-19 has once again played havoc with this season’s Champions League, with many matches being canceled so far. The integrity of the tournament’s format has already been questioned, as a team can qualify for the round of 16 by winning just a single match in the group phase. There are calls for the group stages of the upcoming season to be reviewed to improve the credibility of Europe’s elite club competition. The implications of this forfeited match could be far-reaching, as this could result in the defending champions not making it through to the knockout stages. The French club is seventh in Pool B on seven points, level with Cardiff in eighth and one point ahead of the tenth-placed Wasps, who have a game in hand. This now leaves the five-time champions relying on other fixture results to advance. The decision to award Cardiff the match was taken after the risk assessment committee concluded that the risk of further infections was too great to continue with the match.
Need for Consistency from EPCR
Toulouse president Didier Lacroix released the following statement: “We will take legal action against this decision because we’re witnessing a total lack of respect. It’s not just one case, many clubs have already been wronged and it is time for this to stop.” Lacroix continued, “We are talking about the credibility of this competition.”
Lacroix was referring to the host of other matches that have also been canceled due to Covid-19 outbreaks. This has resulted in calls for consistency from the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) when dealing with outbreaks among teams. They say teams need to be afforded every opportunity to fulfill their match obligations. Earlier in the season, Leinster informed EPCR that they could not field a team against Montpellier, and the French outfit was duly awarded the fixture. Toulouse insists they had a team to honor their game, but the EPCR disagreed. The EPCR is aware of the legal actions being threatened by Toulouse and has convened a match resolution committee to try and resolve the situation.