The postponement of this Saturday’s Welsh derby clash between the Scarlets and Dragons brings the number of matches canceled this season in the United Rugby Championship and Europe to 33, of which 17 have yet to be rescheduled.
Due to several positive COVID-19 cases within the Dragons playing squad, it has been decided that the January 8 event cannot go ahead as planned.
It is the latest in a succession of fixtures to bite the dust at the URC, the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup.
Of the five Welsh Derbys scheduled for the duration of the celebration, only one was able to proceed: the Scarlets’ New Year’s victory over Osprey.
In all, 22 URC Games have now been postponed in recent months for COVID-related reasons, affecting all competing nations.
Many matches in Europe have also been sidelined.
Four recorded a 28–0 walkover win, including the Scarlets’ canceled trip to Bristol, in which the Welsh team was forfeited as they were unable to field a side following a hotel separation.
The Ospreys also suffered a 28-0 loss against them after COVID cases and their Paris meeting with Racing 92 was canceled due to close contacts at their camp.
But it was decided that the seven round two matches that had been canceled due to French travel restrictions should be rescheduled, including the Scarlets’ home game against Beagle-Bordeaux.
So that a large number of fixtures need to be rearranged.
The situation could become even more complicated next weekend – January 15 and 16 – with uncertainty over whether the eight European matches between British and French clubs will be able to go ahead amid travel restrictions.
Osprey is believed to host Racing 92, with the Scarlets out in Bordeaux, while Cardiff is due out of Toulouse in round four on 22 January.
If there are yet more games to be postponed, you have to wonder how it would be possible to reschedule them all within an already packed calendar.
New dates have been received for some fixtures.
The matches, which failed to proceed to South Africa in November and December due to the country being placed on the UK government’s red travel list, have been re-arranged for two weekends in March during the Six Nations period.
These include Cardiff taking on the Lions and Stormers, the Scarlets meeting the Sharks and Bulls.
But it remains to be seen whether the two Welsh territories will go back to South Africa given their last experience, which saw them initially stranded and then going through an extended period of hotel isolation.
The URC say they are fully committed to playing all games as scheduled, but will “ensure the welfare of the teams and players first”.
Also re-jigging has seen fixtures involving South African teams that were due for this weekend in Ireland and Italy moved to the end of February.
United Rugby Championship
Sixth Round (26-27 November)
- Stormers vs Zebras
- shark vs scarlett
- Bulls vs Munster
- Lions vs Cardiff
(all rescheduled for the weekend of March 11-13)
Round Seven (December 3-4)
- Bulls vs Scarlett
- shark vs zebra
- Lions vs Munster
- Stormers vs Cardiff
(all rescheduled for the weekend of March 18-20)
Round Eight (Dec 26-27)
- Cardiff vs Scarlett (to be rescheduled)
- Osprey vs Dragons (to be rescheduled)
- Ulster vs Connacht (to be rescheduled)
- Munster v Leinster (to be rescheduled)
- Glasgow vs Edinburgh (to be rescheduled)
Round 9 (January 1-2)
- Dragons vs Cardiff (to be rescheduled)
- Ulster v Leinster (to be rescheduled)
- Benetton vs Zebra (to be rescheduled)
- Edinburgh vs Glasgow (to be rescheduled)
Round 10 (January 7-8)
- Scarlet vs Dragons (to be rescheduled)
- Zebra V Bulls (Rescheduled for Friday, February 25)
- Leinster v Lions (rescheduled for Friday, February 25)
- Connacht v Stormers (rescheduled for Saturday, February 26)
- Benetton V Sharks (Rescheduled for Saturday, February 26)
European Champions Cup
Round 2 (December 17-19)
- Bath vs La Rochelle (to be rescheduled)
- Sale vs. Clermont Auvergne (to be rescheduled)
- Scarlett vs Bordeaux Bagels (to be rescheduled)
- Toulouse vs Wasp (to be rescheduled)
- Stade Francais vs Bristol (to be rescheduled)
European Challenge Cup
Round 2 (December 17-19)
- Worcester vs Biarritz (to be rescheduled)
- London Irish vs Brive (to be rescheduled)
- Bristol 28, Scarlett 0 (Champions Cup, RD1)
- Montpellier 28, Leinster 0 (Champions Cup, Road 2)
- Racing 92 28, Osprey 0 (Champions Cup, Road 2)
- Pau 28, Saracens 0 (Challenge Cup, Road 2)
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