Exeter dealt huge Heineken Cup blow as cancelled Toulouse clash is given as bonus point victory for French giants leaving title defence in ruins
- Toulouse have been awarded a 28-0, bonus points victory over Exeter Chiefs
- Rob Baxter’s side were unable to face the French side due to a Covid-19 outbreak
- A Match Result committee ruled ‘Toulouse were deemed to be the winners’
- Exeter now face a struggle to qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition
Exeter’s hopes of defending their Heineken European Champions Cup title have been dealt a serious blow as Saturday’s cancelled match against Toulouse was officially recorded as a bonus-point, 28-0 win to the French side.
Rob Baxter’s Chiefs were due to face their leading Gallic opposition at Stade Ernest Wallon, but were unable to fulfil the fixture due to a major COVID outbreak among their squad and staff.
Tournament organisers EPCR confirmed on Friday night that a Match Result Resolution Committee had ruled ‘Toulouse were deemed to be the winners’ and were duly awarded five match points.
Rob Baxter has been dealt a huge blow as Toulouse were awarded the win over his Exeter side
Due to the abbreviated nature of this season’s pool stage – and despite their 42-0 opening victory over Glasgow – Exeter now face a struggle to qualify for the quarter-finals.
They must win convincingly in Glasgow and at home to Toulouse next month, and hope that other results fall in their favour.
Stuart Hogg pictured with the Heineken Champions Cup and Premiership trophy: Exeter now face a struggle to qualify for the quarter-finals of the European competition
In addition to the Toulouse-Exeter ruling, EPCR announced the ‘result’ of the other cancelled matches. Bonus-point wins were also awarded to La Rochelle and Lyon, as Bath and Glasgow had been unable to fulfil their fixtures this weekend due to COVID.
The Champions Cup chaos intensified on Friday night as Toulon pulled out of their encounter with the Scarlets in Llanelli just hours before the match was due to kick-off.
One of the Welsh region’s players tested positive for COVID and two others were also removed on contact tracing grounds, but after a review of all the relevant procedures, EPCR announced that the game could go ahead safely.
On Friday Toulon pulled out of their encounter with the Scarlets in Llanelli due to Covid fears
However, Toulon were unconvinced. Organisers offered them the option of delaying the fixture until Sunday and calling up additional players, but the French club refused and opted to return home.
While the match was provisionally postponed, in reality it is cancelled and the points will be awarded to the Scarlets in due course.
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