Bath will NOT travel to La Rochelle if they have to quarantine 48 hours beforehand

Bath will NOT travel to La Rochelle for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup clash if they have to quarantine 48 hours beforehand – leaving cancellation of match likely as French government still refuse to lift ruling

Bath have confirmed they will not travel for their scheduled Heineken Champions Cup clash with La Rochelle on Saturday night if they have to quarantine on arrival in France.

Sportsmail revealed this week that English clubs were contemplating a boycott of European matches in France unless the 48-hour regulation on quarantine was lifted.

European rugby bosses have been in constant discussions with French officials to try to get the ruling removed, but as of Wednesday lunchtime, they had been unable to do so.

Bath’s Heineken Champions Cup clash at La Rochelle is in severe doubt due to quarantine rules

The current rulings for sports teams to enter France involve a 48-hour quarantine on arrival and PCR testing for Covid-19 while in the country.

Any player or staff member who records a positive case while in France would then be forced to isolate there for 10 days.

Hooper confirmed that if the status quo is maintained, Bath will stay at home.

‘For us, it’s more about the testing in country,’ he said.

‘If you have to isolate for 48 hours it’s because you have to test out of it or stay isolating for 10 days.

‘That is absolutely not a condition by which we’d travel to France as you can be stuck there. You have seen how that’s been a problem for other teams in other competitions.’

Hooper continued: ‘It’s really important you don’t look too far ahead, but at the same time you also have to understand what it would mean for the players who might get stuck in France.

‘We don’t know what that would look like yet. If we all travel over together and someone tests positive, are we all close contacts? Are we then all in a hotel with 40 people together for 10 days?

‘That’s a hurdle that definitely needs to be got over very quickly.

‘We still don’t have absolute clarity on what we have to do. We hope to hear very soon about what’s required. I know EPCR are working hard on it, so we’ll see very soon.’

United Rugby Championship sides Cardiff, Scarlets, Munster and Zebre all got stuck in South Africa last year after being forced to quarantine there as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 began to surge.

It is that exact scenario Bath and their fellow English and Welsh teams travelling to France this weekend want to avoid at all costs.

Newcastle are the first English team scheduled to play in France this weekend. They are due to face Biarritz in the Challenge Cup on Friday, but aren’t scheduled to fly today.

That would mean they will not arrive in France in time to fulfil the 48-hour quarantine period.

Scarlets and Sale are also poised for matches across the channel against Bordeaux and ASM Clermont Auvergne respectively.

A further update from EPCR is expected on Wednesday afternoon.

In an added complication for Bath, Hooper also confirmed his team’s South African players are yet to receive Schengen visa clearance to enter France.

He said: ‘It’s very easy to say to the players ‘Get your heads on and focus on the game’ – that’s a line you would hear from many people. But it definitely does affect the players.

‘What I would say is they have become very used to disruption.

‘It was pretty much this time a year ago we didn’t travel to La Rochelle and it was only the night before it was decided that game wasn’t going to be played.

‘We all wish it wasn’t this way, but the boys are used to adapting now. The logistics we’re presented with for this trip in particular are pretty unprecedented.

‘We certainly need to have an update by the back end of today so the lads know what to pack in their bag and how many changes of clothes to bring!’


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