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'We were doing scrums with masks on' - Leinster players wait on final call

A decision on the Covid-threatened clash with Montpellier will be made today.

Caelan Doris at Leinster training on Tuesday.
Caelan Doris at Leinster training on Tuesday.
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

IT’S VERY MUCH a sign of the times that Leinster players were doing scrums at training on Tuesday with their masks on.

There’s no doubt it must have been a strange sight, but with Covid already in their camp ahead of Friday’s clash with Montpellier in France, Leinster were doing all in their power to keep the show on the road.

As things stood at the time of writing last night, the Champions Cup clash was still scheduled to go ahead – despite Montpellier also having Covid in their camp.

Today, a final decision will be made on the fixture. Both clubs are waiting for the results of their latest PCR testing before confirming whether or not they can fulfill the fixture. Neither of them want to be the ones to throw in the towel first, for that will give the other a 28-0 bonus-point walkover. There is some hope they might yet share a draw if EPCR is amenable to the possibility.

The masks in the scrums were one measure taken by Leinster to mitigate any further spread of Covid. 

“It was strange,” said Leinster forward Caelan Doris. “I was in the back row so it doesn’t impact me too much. I’d say it is strange up front anyway.”

Leinster were initially due to fly out to Montpellier this afternoon but they cancelled that flight slot and rearranged their trip for Friday morning. 

It’s understood there is some trepidation within the coaching and management ranks about getting stuck in France in the event of any positive cases while over there, or any change in travel restrictions in the coming days as Covid numbers rise.

The players, though, aren’t getting too caught up in worrying about things out of their control.

“Obviously, Europe is the pinnacle of club rugby so we’re pretty excited about it still,” said Doris. “We’re still prepping as if it’s all going ahead which we hope it is.

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“It’s quite a dynamic situation. We’re obviously doing a hell of a lot of testing to mitigate as much of the risk as possible. We are trying just to get on with our jobs, prepare as best we can for Friday.

“Like you can see from Munster last week how the bit of adversity and the challenge how special it is when you get that win, a decent performance off the back of it, so we are still trying to prepare as best we can and we know a good performance and hopefully a result on Friday will feel extra special having gone through the challenge and adversity around the covid cases.

“[The protocols] are stricter around keeping your distance in meetings, being spaced out, having masks on all the time.”

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Murray Kinsella

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