Heineken Champions Cup: Coronavirus cancellation rules “far too harsh”, says Ugo Monye


Stuart Hogg scores a try for Exeter
Title-holders Exeter’s Champions Cup quarter-final hopes were dealt a blow by their cancelled game at Toulouse

Heineken Champions Cup rules handing a 28-0 defeat to sides responsible for coronavirus-related cancellations are “far too harsh”, says former England wing Ugo Monye.

Four fixtures were cancelled last weekend because of Covid-19 outbreaks.

The tournament has adopted a condensed format this year and Monye fears the sanctions will mean the best eight teams do not reach the quarter-finals.

“It feels far too harsh a sanction in a condensed season,” he said.

Monye continued on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly: “There is no blame in this pandemic.

“The game needs an element of empathy, this feels quite clinical.”

Defending champions Exeter Chiefs were given a 28-0 loss, meaning their opponents Toulouse took a maximum five points from the fixture, after a coronavirus outbreak at the club.

With four sides advancing from each 12-team pool, the result means Chiefs might not reach the last eight even if they take maximum points from their final two group games.

Glasgow were also given a 28-0 loss as their game against Lyon was called off because of Warriors’ exposure to Exeter the weekend before.

Bath and Toulon suffered similar fates, with the French side pulling out of their game at Scarlets less than two hours before kick-off because of safety concerns after a positive coronavirus test at the Welsh club.

“It doesn’t sit well with me,” Monye added.

“Exeter Chiefs, the current champions, can now only get a maximum of 15 points and might not even get to the quarter-finals for something totally out of their control.

“If you’ve done everything you can to follow the guidelines then why should you be punished?

“My fear is, you might not have the eight best teams in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals.

“You will just have the ones that managed to dodge the virus the best or just got lucky with it.”

‘Racing defeat rocked me to the core’ – Ashton

Chris Ashton is tackled
Chris Ashton played in Harlequins’ defeat to Racing 92 on Sunday

Premiership side Harlequins’ match against French team Racing 92 did go ahead, with the hosts suffering a bruising 49-7 defeat. by last season’s finalists.

Quins could only muster one try, through Scott Steele, to Racing’s seven and are now left with almost no chance of reaching the last eight.

“It has rocked me to the core,” Harlequins wing Chris Ashton said.

“It was embarrassing. I’ve not been beaten like that since I was about 18. It is going to take me a while to get over it.

“I had hoped to get to the end of rugby without that happening so it has cut me deep.”

‘People are as excited about Barbeary as they were Itoje’ – Care

Alfie Barbeary celebrates scoring a try
Alfie Barbeary scored two tries in Wasps’ win against Montpellier

Fellow English side Wasps enjoyed more success as they beat Montpellier 33-14 and now sit second in Pool A.

Number eight Alfie Barbeary, usually a hooker, scored two tries and set up another in a rampaging man-of-the-match performance for the hosts.

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care praised Barbeary, comparing the 20-year-old to a young Maro Itoje.

“He looks tough, he’s got half his front teeth missing,” Care added.

“When he’s playing he looks like he wants to hurt people with and without the ball. People are as excited about him as they were about Maro Itoje five or six years ago.”

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