England-Barbarians rugby game called off after players breach Covid-19 protocols

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The Barbarians were all smiles earlier this week during a training session in London.

Alex Davidson/Getty Images

The Barbarians were all smiles earlier this week during a training session in London.

England’s rugby match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday has been cancelled because of breaches of Covid-19 protocols, the English Rugby Football Union said on Friday.

An RFU investigation found that a number of Barbarians players left their hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday without permission and without informing organisers about their whereabouts.

The players who left Tuesday did not isolate themselves upon returning, which “resulted in the bubble environment being compromised,” the RFU said, citing risks to other players, coaches and staff.


Dave Rennie said the idea was discussed amongst the players, however the side unanimously decided against the political statement.

“The RFU is therefore left with no alternative but to cancel the game,” it said.

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The RFU said it won’t specify the number of players involved nor identify them until its ongoing investigation is complete.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said he is “incredibly disappointed” but that health comes first, especially with England preparing to play this autumn.

Considering the effort to establish protocols and make arrangements with Premiership clubs, Sweeney said, “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.”

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