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England’s curtain raiser to the autumn has been cancelled after the Rugby Football Union discovered an additional breach of coronavirus protocols by Barbarians players.
Senior internationals Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth and Sean Maitland were among a group of 12 who left the team hotel in central London on Wednesday night in order to have dinner.
As a result, they were removed from the squad as the Barbarians launched a frantic attempt to find replacements to fulfil Sunday’s Twickenham showdown.
But before the 3pm deadline for their desperate recruitment drive had arrived, the RFU learnt that restrictions in place to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19 had also been broken the previous day.
This Sunday’s Quilter Cup fixture has been cancelled following several breaches of the Covid code of conduct within the Barbarians squad.
More details below. — England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) October 23, 2020
“As part of its ongoing investigation into a breach of the Covid code of conduct that took place on October 21, the RFU has discovered there was an earlier undisclosed breach that took place on October 20 when a number of Barbarians players left the hotel bubble without permission and without informing organisers about their whereabouts,” an RFU statement read.
“The RFU has concluded that the players leaving their Covid-secure environment on October 20 without then isolating from the rest of the group on their return has resulted in the bubble environment being compromised, with the potential risk of Covid transmission from individuals outside the bubble to everyone in the Barbarians team and management.
“The RFU is therefore left with no alternative but to cancel the game.”
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By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent
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