Bristol take an automatic 28-0 victory

It has been announced that the Scarlets forfeit their round one Heineken Champions Cup match against Bristol Bears, which was due to be played on Saturday, December 11.

The Scarlets made it out of South Africa before travel restrictions came into place, amidst the rise of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, however they have been in a strict ten-day quarantine near Belfast. Despite the Ospreys and Dragons offering to assist their fellow region with player support, Scarlets felt it would be unsafe to bring back frontline players who had not trained for an extended period, into a physically demanding contest.

With only 14 fit Scarlets players training at Parc y Scarlets – seven senior players and seven development players – the club have decided to forfeit. This will go down as an automatic 28-0 win for Bristol.

Related: Cardiff return to UK

Scarlets executive chairman Simon Muderack said: “It is a decision we haven’t taken lightly. This is a great fixture between two great clubs, which supporters, players and staff on both sides were all looking forward to.

“Ultimately, though, the welfare of our players has to be our priority and following discussions with our staff it was felt that there was too much risk to ask the players currently in quarantine to play a game of this magnitude and intensity just a day after coming out of quarantine. You have to remember, the squad have been in isolation since the news of this Omicron variant first emerged when they were still in Durban so it will be something like 15 days in all. Also, a lot of the players haven’t played since the Benetton game on October 22. As a club we have a duty of care to our players.

“With only 14 squad members training at the Parc, half of them young development players, we did look into the possibility of registering players from other regions and we have been grateful for the positive response from Ospreys and Dragons. But, any players we did loan would effectively be ‘cup-tied’ which has made that option a challenge as well.

“With the integrity of the competition in mind, we felt we were unable to put together a match-day 23 that would safely be able to take the field against the Bears.”

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