London Broncos hit out at Rugby Football League chiefs after being ordered to forfeit points for refusing to fly to France for Toulouse fixture due to Covid restrictions
London Broncos have criticised a decision ordering them to forfeit the points from their next scheduled Betfred Championship match against Toulouse after refusing to travel to France.
Following the introduction of a 10-day quarantine stipulation on travellers returning from France, which is in a third lockdown due to a rise in Covid-19 cases, the Rugby Football League told the 12 part-time clubs in the Championship they would not be compelled to make the trip to Toulouse.
However, the Broncos were not part of the exemption because they are a full-time team and would not, therefore, be as badly affected as clubs with players who needed to attend work on their return to the country.
Danny Ward and his London Broncos players were not exempt like the 12 part-time clubs
The Londoners’ refusal to play the round-two fixture on Saturday week has resulted in their opponents’ being awarded a 24-0 win and the RFL says the Broncos will also be referred to its compliance department for alleged off-field misconduct.
The ruling has prompted a war of words between the two clubs with London arguing they are being treated differently to the rest of the clubs.
The Broncos say they offered to reverse the fixture while Toulouse claim they offered to pay for a charter flight to enable their opponents to fly in and out of the city on the day of the game and to cover the cost of their Covid tests.
London chairman David Hughes said: ‘The RFL made the decision that our club should travel to France on the basis of being full-time and that our competitors who are playing for the same prize of promotion to Super League for the 2022 season do not have to travel due to being part-time.
‘We feel this doesn’t create a level playing field within our competition and brings into question of the integrity of the competition if we are having to adhere to different criteria.
‘At a meeting held in early March we made our feelings known about what was being asked of us which was supported by other clubs in the competition yet the RFL still insisted on us travelling.’
Toulouse president Bernard Sarrazain said: ‘It has been over a year since we played at home and we were impatiently awaiting this meeting.
‘Everything was in place so we are very disappointed by this decision and its timing, just 10 days before the game, which we do not understand.
‘Indeed, we have done everything possible to ensure that London is in the best possible conditions, both in terms of sport and health, by financing ourselves a plane chartered especially for them with a return trip during the day.
‘It is a considerable investment on our part. We were even going to pay for the mandatory PCR tests to enter France.
‘We travel about 15 times a season to England without complaint and there is no valid reason why London cannot come once to Toulouse.
‘I salute the firmness of the RFL.’