An unnamed member of the Toulon pack tested positive for Covid-19; Champions Cup medical risk assessment committee deemed the match unsafe to play; Leinster will face either Exeter or Lyon in the Champions Cup quarter-finals
The RDS Arena in Dublin was due to host the European last-16 tie on Friday evening
Leinster are through to the Champions Cup quarter-finals after their last-16 tie against Toulon was called off on Friday.
Three-time tournament winners Toulon had travelled to Dublin for their clash with Leinster at the RDS Arena on Friday, but a player who did not make the trip had tested positive for coronavirus.
The Champions Cup medical risk assessment committee deemed the match unsafe to play, even though Toulon had completed a round of negative tests after arriving in Dublin.
Tournament bosses have now awarded Leinster direct passage to the last eight, where they will meet the winners of Saturday’s clash between defending champions Exeter and French side Lyon.
A statement from European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) read: “Following the cancellation of the Heineken Champions Cup, Round of 16 fixture between Leinster Rugby and RC Toulon due to health and safety concerns for players, club staff and match officials alike, the result of the match has been decided by a Match Result Resolution Committee.
“The committee, comprising members of the EPCR Management team, with EPCR Board members, Andrea Rinaldo (FIR) and Robert Howat (SRU), as observers, considered the facts regarding the cancelled match today.
“Following medical advice that the match could not be played safely, RC Toulon were unable to select a match day squad after it was deemed that the club had a number of high-risk close contacts with one of its non-travelling players who had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Therefore as RC Toulon could not fulfil the fixture, the committee decided under the terms of EPCR’s COVID-19 protocol that Leinster will progress to the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals on the weekend of April 9.”
The EPCR decision to hand Leinster an effective bye to the last eight followed confirmation earlier on Friday that the match had been cancelled.
“It was concluded that there were a number of high-risk contacts with the player who had tested positive and deemed the match unsafe to play with the participation of those identified contacts,” read the initial EPCR statement.
“Having been notified of that position, Toulon informed EPCR that they could not select a matchday squad to safely fulfil the fixture.
“Having explored all possible alternative arrangements to facilitate the staging of the fixture, it was decided that the match could not be played safely given both the current public health guidelines in Ireland and EPCR’s COVID-19 protocol.”
In a lengthy club statement, Toulon expressed their “amazement” at the EPCR’s decision to cancel the match.
The Top 14 club said the entire squad returned negative results after testing on Monday, but further tests carried out on Wednesday revealed a positive case, that of a Toulon forward.
That player was placed into solitary confinement before Toulon provided the EPCR with a “contract tracing” file linked to the positive case.
Toulon were then asked to carry out PCR tests on the full squad after their arrival in Dublin on Thursday, with all results proving negative.