LONDON (AP) — The rugby international between the Barbarians and Samoa was called off only 90 minutes before kickoff at Twickenham on Saturday due to six cases of the coronavirus among the Barbarians players and staff.
The decision was made following a recommendation by the Professional Game Testing Oversight Group, the Rugby Football Union said.
“We appreciate that this is an extremely disappointing situation for the many fans due to attend,” the RFU said, “but the safety of all members of both teams is our priority.”
Four players and two members of staff tested position for the virus.
The Barbarians said they had 23 players who tested negative on Saturday morning and were “ready and keen to take to the pitch against Samoa."
“The whole squad complied to the letter with the COVID protocols throughout the week, including daily lateral flow tests,” the team said.
“After today’s results, we worked hard with the RFU, Public Health England and the Testing Oversight Committee to find a way that we could play. Unfortunately, it was concluded on medical grounds that there was a risk to players on both sides should the game go ahead.”
The Barbarians said their players “are absolutely devastated they were unable to play today.”
The game was to be the swansong for former Ireland fullback Rob Kearney and the last for Samoa for lock Joe Tekori.
Tekori said they were already dressed for the game when news came that it was off.
“The room went quiet. I couldn't say anything and all the boys were waiting for me to say anything,” an emotional Tekori told the BBC.
“I know its my last game for my country. It's sad for me. I don't want to end like this.”
The crowd was entertained, instead, by the Barbarians Women beating a Springbok Women’s XV 60-5.
More AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports