Rugby

Leo Cullen Lays Blame At EPCR's Door For Montpellier Cancellation

Leo Cullen Lays Blame At EPCR's Door For Montpellier Cancellation

As Leinster prepare to host Montpellier in the Champions Cup on Sunday, the scars from the cancelled clash in France last month are still on show - and head coach Leo Cullen, for one, is still unimpressed with the European rugby governing body's decision making.

Leo Cullen questions "illogical" cancellation of Champions Cup game

Leo Cullen's Leinster have suffered a truncated season, with the province playing only three games since the end of October. They have been hit hard by several COVID outbreaks and, even when their squad was fully healthy, their opponents have suffered similar fates, with their New Year's Day clash with Ulster called off due to an outbreak for the Ulstermen.

11 December 2021; James Lowe of Leinster scores his side's third try during the Heineken Champions Cup Pool A match between Leinster and Bath at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

In the lead up to Christmas, Leinster saw their Champions Cup game at Montpellier cancelled by the governing body of the tournament, the EPCR, after an outbreak of COVID among the Leinster squad.

Despite having a 23-man squad available, the decision was made on Leinster's behalf by the EPCR, and they were punished with a 28-0 loss for the cancellation. Head coach Cullen spoke to the media ahead of this weekend's return fixture, and questioned the rationale behind the decision, especially given teams with more damaged squads were not forced to cancel their games.

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It seems illogical to me. We would have tested Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, changed our travel arrangements to fly the day of the game and had everyone ready to go.

You saw at Wasps, the amount of changes that they had on the day of the game [against Munster].

In the lead up to the scheduled round of games, new travel regulations had threatened the prospect of a quarantine period for teams entering into France - leading to games between British and French teams being cancelled, and a draw declared the result.

Cullen revealed that Leinster raised concerns over those regulations with the EPCR and were assured that they would be able to push ahead with the game - only to suffer the ill effects of a cancellation as a result.

We talked to EPCR on Wednesday of the original Montpellier week and we would have expressed concerns about the travel and the 10 days and being stuck.

It seemed like a sensible decision, a draw, at that point in time to me. But we pushed on on the recommendation we got from EPCR. It’s important to note that. We pushed on ahead with the preparations and then the game gets called off, even though we had sign-off from public health as well.

There are questions for EPCR. We are the ones suffering with a 28-0 loss.

It could be potentially a very costly 28-0 loss for us as opposed to a 0-0 draw.

All you want is consistency and I don't think we've necessarily seen that.

From Leo Cullen's comments, it certainly sounds like Leinster were hard done by around the Montpellier game in December. Regardless, it's now crunch time for Cullen's men, and they cannot afford to slip up against the French side in Sunday's game.

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