EXCLUSIVE: England's game against Barbarians is OFF

EXCLUSIVE: England v Barbarians is CALLED OFF after Chris Robshaw and 11 other Baa-Baas players ignored Covid rules to go out for dinner with the RFU refusing to sign off their scratch squad

  • An urgent review took place to decide if England vs Barbarians could go ahead 
  • 12 members of the Barbarians squad left their London hotel without permission
  • Breach of coronavirus protocols has meant RFU decided to cancel game 
  • Baa-Baas pulled together squad of 23 but were unable to gain approval  

England’s autumn campaign has been rocked after Sunday’s opening game against the Barbarians was called off following a breach of Covid protocols.

The RFU launched an urgent review on Thursday night after 12 Barbarians players broke the strict bio-bubble rules by leaving the team hotel to visit a restaurant.

Former England skipper Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth and Tom de Glanville were among the players, who were subsequently sent home from the camp.

Chris Robshaw is said to be one of 12 Barbarians who broke Covid rules in London this week

Richard Wigglesworth (centre) was another player among those to go out for dinner

The Barbarians managed by Friday morning to pull together a 23-man squad, all of whom had tested negative, but were unable to convince the RFU to sign off the team.

A Zoom meeting was held at 1.30pm on Friday afternoon when the RFU deemed that staging the Twickenham fixture could leave England’s autumn preparations in jeopardy.   

When the RFU revealed outline details of the incident, there was widespread speculation about heavy drinking but Sportsmail has been told that the players merely went for dinner and were back in the hotel by 10pm. 

The cancellation has denied Robshaw a farewell game as he was due to appear at HQ against his old team-mates before a move to the USA to play for San Diego 

Eddie Jones will be hugely frustrated that the warm-up game will no longer go ahead

England will now go into their Six Nations finale without having had a proper run out together

When the players came back from the dinner out, an RFU security guard informed them they had to stay away from other Barbarians squad members and team-mates to avoid risking contamination. 

News reached the RFU and they sent head of discipline David Barnes to take statements from those involved at Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane. 

It is understood that new England prop Simon Kerrod and a large Fijian contingent did not leave the hotel — where the ballroom has been turned into a squad games and dining room.

Prior to the cancellation, the RFU issued a strong statement on the incident, that read: ‘Barbarian FC have expressed their extreme disappointment in the conduct of the players involved and have taken all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the players and staff within the bubble.’

The Barbarians pulled together a squad for the game but did not gain approval to face England

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