England v Barbarians: Robshaw, Wigglesworth, Maitland, Wray among players stood down

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Twickenham
The match was due to be played at Twickenham
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Sunday, 25 October Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Coverage: Live text on the BBC Sport website and app; highlights on BBC Two and online from 18:00 GMT.

Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth, Sean Maitland and Jackson Wray are among 12 Barbarians players stood down from Sunday’s fixture against England after breaking Covid-related rules.

The players left their hotel bubble contrary to team protocols to have dinner at a central London restaurant.

Sunday’s game is in the balance as the Barbarians try to recruit enough players to replace those stood down.

A 15:00 BST deadline has been set for them to pull together a 23-man squad.

The Rugby Football Union has launched an investigation into the breach, with a view to summoning anyone at fault before an independent disciplinary panel under the charge of bringing the game into disrepute.

It is understood Premiership Rugby officials emailed clubs on Thursday to ask if they would release players to play for the Barbarians.

Given the requirements for players to be in a bubble and with a negative coronavirus test result, it is expected extra players will mostly come from those within the England camp not selected by Eddie Jones.

Most club chairmen BBC Sport has spoken to have been very supportive of what is being described as an ‘SOS’, and believe it is a good opportunity for their players who might otherwise have been released by England.

As well as Wigglesworth, Wray and Maitland, it is understood a number of other Saracens players were involved.

Barbarian FC expressed their “extreme disappointment” in the conduct of the players who breached the regulations.

They had only announced their 23-man squad on Wednesday and face a considerable task replacing those expelled.

Cardiff RFC said on Fridayexternal-link that centre Max Llewellyn, son of former Wales lock Gareth, and full-back Ioan Davies had been called up to the squad.

The players involved in Wednesday night’s unauthorised excursion were kept separate from the rest of the Barbarians squad on their return to the hotel.

Although the team are due to be tested for coronavirus again before Sunday’s match at Twickenham, the Rugby Football Union stated it would “not be possible to guarantee that these players are not infectious in the period up to and including the match”.

“The RFU scheduled the fixture to provide a warm-up game ahead of the postponed Italy v England Guinness Six Nations decider, however, it will not compromise the safety of players to do so,” it added.

The build-up to Barbarians games is famous for its focus on socialising and the team management installed a team-room in their London base to keep the players entertained.

Leicester wing Nemani Nadolo, who has played twice for the Barbarians, and Bristol Bears, who had been on standby to take part in Saturday’s Premiership final before Wasps were shown to have contained a Covid-19 outbreak, were among those to offer their services to the Barbarians on social media.

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