England’s match against the Barbarians on Sunday has been called off after the Barbarians were forced to remove 12 players from their squad on Thursday for breaching their coronavirus code of conduct.
England were set to face the invitational side as a warm up to their Six Nations finale against Italy on Oct. 31, but the RFU could not guarantee the player’s safety after members of the squad breached the bio-bubble rules.
Sources have told ESPN those players who breached protocol included former England captain Chris Robshaw.
“The RFU has concluded that the players leaving their coronavirus-secure environment on Oct. 20 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,” a statement from the Rugby Football Union read.
“The RFU is therefore left with no alternative but to cancel the game.”
The Barbarians had managed to put together a matchday squad who all tested negative for coronavirus but the RFU deemed the late alterations too risky to England’s autumn international preparations.
“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,” RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said.
“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.”