Munster have finally been given some form of wiggle room ahead of their opening game in this season's Heineken Champions Cup.
Tournament organisers EPCR have relaxed their rules on player registration before the pool stages in both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.
Munster academy manager Ian Costello is working with a patchwork squad of returning internationals, Academy and Prospect players for their December 12 game away to Wasps.
34 members of their travelling party to South Africa returned to Ireland on Wednesday, but are all now in a ten-day isolation period. 14 others remain isolating in Cape Town having tested positive for COVID-19.
We can confirm that due to restrictions on inbound flights to the UK and the withdrawal of a landing slot, we were unable to take off this morning.
We now plan to depart Cape Town tomorrow morning. Thank you for all of your support.
— Cardiff Rugby (@Cardiff_Rugby) December 2, 2021
Things are even worse for Cardiff, whose squad were still in South Africa as of Thursday afternoon. They said, "We can confirm that due to restrictions on inbound flights to the UK and the withdrawal of a landing slot, we were unable to take off this morning. We now plan to depart Cape Town tomorrow morning."
The EPCR confirmed that they've decided to extend the first registration date for players until midday on December 8.
They're allowing clubs to supplement their squads with an unlimited number of new players.
Munster said on Wednesday that they remained in conversation with the EPCR over their situation, with the latter body revealing that their hand has been forced to plough on as there are no alternative weekends available in the calendar.
They also say the following COVID-19 regulations will be kept in place for the pool stages:
- All players, coaching staff and essential club personnel must return a negative Covid test result in match week. The test results can be utilised to facilitate cross-border travel to matches.
- Only essential club personnel will be permitted to avail of elite sportspersons quarantine exemptions for cross-border travel. Personnel from outside the high-performance environment will not be exempt.
- Clubs will be required to abide by the regulations imposed by local authorities with regards to travel and accommodation restrictions.
- A Red Zone restriction for operational purposes will be in place at all match venues.