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Sport

RFU charges 13 Barbarians players after COVID-19 protocol breach

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Premiership - Harlequins v Wasps - Twickenham Stoop, London, Britain - September 28, 2020 Harlequins' Chris Robshaw after the match Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

LONDON (Reuters) - The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has charged 13 unnamed Barbarians players for a breach of COVID-19 protocols that led to the cancellation of a non-cap match against England at Twickenham last weekend.

The breach arose when players left their hotel rooms and had dinner in a restaurant without the permission of organisers.

The RFU said in a statement on Thursday that the players faced charges of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union or the Game.

They include individual breaches, such as leaving the hotel without permission and providing false statements during an investigation.

“The RFU recognises the pressure public scrutiny is placing on the players and therefore it will publish players’ names, full judgements and sanctions after the hearings have concluded,” the statement said.

“The Independent Panel can issue a range of sanctions at their discretion including fines and/or match bans and/or any other suitable sanction.”

Former England captain Chris Robshaw, who was due to play his last game in England before heading to America, has apologised publicly for his behaviour along with others including Saracens’ Richard Wigglesworth and Joel Kpoku.

“I want to express my deepest apologies for breaching the Barbarians Covid-19 restrictions by leaving the hotel post training with some of my team-mates,” Robson said on Twitter last week.

“A huge effort went into conducting this match in a safe fashion and it was irresponsible of me to break the protocols which are put in place to protect players, staff and the public.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris

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