‘We are in a very bad shape because of Covid’: Billionaire Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad calls for the European Cup to be ditched this season due to the threat of cross-border coronavirus chaos
- Altrad blames Covid for his side’s poor showing in this year’s tournament
- Montpellier plan to send an academy side to fulfill their final fixtre at Wasps
- Pool 1 rivals Northampton have returned a number of positive coronavirus tests
Hopes of completing this season’s Champions Cup are in jeopardy after a top French club owner called for the competition to be cancelled.
Billionaire Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad told Sportsmail that the tournament should be forfeited amid the threat of cross-border Covid chaos.
But clubs are split on the best course of action, with Racing 92 owner Jacky Lorenzetti saying ‘those who want to boycott are the ones who perform the worst’.
Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad believes this year’s tournament should be forfeited
Squads are experiencing a spike in positive Covid cases and future rounds of the competition, including Montpellier’s game against Wasps next week, could be undermined. French side Bayonne have already pulled out of their remaining Challenge Cup matches and Altrad believes the focus should now turn to domestic rugby.
‘If somebody goes to win the Championship, what does that mean? In France last year they decided there was no champion. I would agree with that,’ said Altrad.
‘Let the various teams and countries carry on to fulfil one target — their national championship. We have not been brilliant in the Champions Cup and we are already eliminated. My opinion is to cancel the whole championship. We are obliged to play Wasps next week and if there is no decision to stop it, we will send a team based on the academy.
‘We are in a very bad shape because of Covid. We’ve had three games that we couldn’t play and that’s left us at the bottom of the table in our domestic competition. That’s our situation.
‘We have played two and lost two in the Champions Cup, when we had 15 players infected or injured. The logic is not right.’
Champions Cup Pool 1 rivals Northampton have returned a number of positive Covid tests
Lorenzetti, however, insisted his unbeaten team are determined to continue the competition. He told RugbyRama: ‘I don’t want to be mean but those who want to boycott the European Cup are the ones who perform the worst.’
French clubs have been pushing for a review of testing protocols after Toulon abandoned their match against the Scarlets. Productive discussions were held earlier this week and an EPCR spokesperson said: ‘At Monday’s productive meeting of the Medical Advisory Group, all shareholders contributed to revisions of the Covid-19 protocols. EPCR is confident that revisions will be finalised and communicated soon.’
In the Premiership, Northampton’s East Midlands derby against Leicester on Saturday has been thrown into doubt after the Saints returned a number of positive Covid tests.
They postponed Tuesday’s media session and are currently working with the medical team to determine whether the match can still go ahead.
A club spokesperson said: ‘We have had a limited number of positive Covid tests this week and are currently working through the associated protocols with the medical oversight group and other stakeholders.’
Meanwhile, former Wasps coach Dai Young has been linked with a return to the game after John Mulvihill left his role as head coach of Cardiff Blues with immediate effect.
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