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Thursday Dec 2, 2021

Extension to player registrations lifts pressure on teams stuck in South Africa

The European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has announced an extension to the registration window for teams competing in the Champions Cup ahead of the opening round of fixtures next weekend.

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It means that teams can add “unlimited” numbers of previously unregistered players to supplement their squads before the competition begins.

This is particularly positive news for Munster, Cardiff, Scarlets and Zebre, all of whom have been facing difficulty returning home from South Africa – where they were due to play in the United Rugby Championship – following the surge in the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Ordinarily, sides wishing to add extra players to their squad need to have said players contracted for at least three months, but it is believed that this restriction will be waived on the basis that the extension applies to the first registration window.

Munster were forced to leave 14 players behind in isolation in South Africa, while Cardiff are still struggling to make it home to Wales, after their planned journey out of South Africa was cancelled due to restricted flights between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the Scarlets have been urging the EPCR to postpone its first Champions Cup clash with Bristol – due to take place on Friday 11th December – given that the bulk of their players will only exit their 10-day mandatory quarantine a day before the match.

In addition to the squad extension, EPCR has also made some changes to the COVID protocol for the Champions Cup.

  • All players, coaching staff and essential club personnel must return a negative Covid test result in match week. The test results can be utilised to facilitate cross-border travel to matches.
  • Only essential club personnel will be permitted to avail of elite sportspersons quarantine exemptions for cross-border travel. Personnel from outside the high-performance environment will not be exempt.
  • Clubs will be required to abide by the regulations imposed by local authorities with regards to travel and accommodation restrictions.
  • A Red Zone restriction for operational purposes will be in place at all match venues.
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