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England vs Barbarians in doubt after Chris Robshaw among 12 Baa-Baas to break Covid protocol

Chris Robshaw among Barbarians players to breach Covid code of conduct; Former England captain and 11 others left their London hotel on Wednesday night; Robshaw was due to make farewell appearance before moving to San Diego; Decision to be made by Friday 3pm on whether game can go ahead

Chris Robshaw in Barbarians training
Image: Chris Robshaw is among 12 Barbarians players to have breached Covid protocols and will not face England, if the game is able to go ahead

England's game against the Barbarians on Sunday is in doubt after a number of Barbarians players - including former England captain Chris Robshaw - breached the agreed Covid code of conduct.

Robshaw, who was set to make his final appearance in England before moving to San Diego Legion in America's Major League Rugby, is understood to have been among 12 Barbarians players to leave their central London hotel base on Wednesday night.

Several of the other 11 are understood to be players from Saracens. The Rugby Football Union is currently reviewing if the Quilter Cup match can still go ahead.

A decision will be made about whether the match can be played by 3pm on Friday and is dependent on the Barbarians finding enough players with up-to-date Covid testing records that can be brought in.

 The RFU are investigating whether Sunday's game can go ahead
Image: The RFU are investigating whether Sunday's game can go ahead

In a statement, the RFU said: "On the evening of 21 October a number of Barbarians players breached the agreed Covid code of conduct protocol by leaving their hotel bubble without permission and without informing organisers about their whereabouts.

"On their return, the players were immediately separated from the rest of the group in the bubble in order to protect its integrity.

"The players leaving their Covid-secure environment has resulted in a potential risk of Covid transmission from individuals outside the bubble, and even with a further round of testing for this group it will not be possible to guarantee these players are not infectious in the period up to and including the match.

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"Therefore to protect the safety of other participants, these players cannot be permitted to remain with the Barbarians squad and play in Sunday's fixture.

The England squad are at their training base in Teddington preparing for Sunday's game
Image: The England squad are at their training base in Teddington preparing for Sunday's game

"If sufficient new players with an appropriate testing history and who have been meeting the code of conduct standards can be to be brought into the Barbarians camp then the game will go ahead."

The Barbarians also released a statement on Thursday afternoon: "There has been a breach of the agreed Covid-19 code of conduct which every player and staff member signed prior to attending camp.

"We are extremely disappointed in the actions of the players involved and do not in any way condone their conduct.

"England rugby are now assessing whether the Quilter Cup can happen and we're working with them to do everything we can to make this possible.

"We're proud of those players who acted responsibly showing an understanding of the importance of getting rugby back for fans."

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