Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield has delivered a detailed explanation behind the club’s decision not to travel for Saturday’s match against Catalans in Perpignan.
Leeds confirmed this morning that they would not be fulfilling their fixture and the decision has been supported by the Dragons.
The RFL have issued a statement saying they will investigate the factors behind the decision.
This afternoon, Sinfield spoke at length about those factors.
Here’s everything he said:
“Since Tuesday, we’ve been in discussions with Catalans and the RFL Board made a decision that the game was to go ahead.
“We fully supported that and we wanted to play, but then a lot changed, including government advice.
“We also have a member of our squad, who was in full training, who started showing some symptoms early on Tuesday.
“He was sent home with some anti-biotics and he started to improve Wednesday, but he had a really bad night and on the back of that we spent some time on the phone with the NHS discussing his symptoms.
“If the game had have been in the UK then we’d have absolutely played the game.
“We’d have followed the government’s guidelines and advice, but we’d have been travelling to Spain and then France from the UK and you have to consider all three governments.
“That’s alongside the possibility of having an infected player and our own government advising the ban of overseas school trips.
“That really concerned us as it seemed really conflicting that our first team could go.
“We went through the whole process and ultimately I’d like to think that all decisions made are with health, wellbeing and care at the forefront.
“With that in mind, we felt it would have been really irresponsible to travel and put people at risk.
“We’re all aware of which parts of society are vulnerable and given that the player in question had been in contact with our full squad and staff.
“So, one, all or some of them could have been carrying the virus onto a plane of people.
“There are some things that are bigger than a game and a sport.
“And to turn up in France, play Catalans and infect a full team and staff would be really irresponsible.
“We had to do the right thing and make the right decision and, after a lot of deliberation, intel gathering and research, we felt absolutely certain that we got to the right place.
“Our chief medical officer has been outstanding, and the Catalans Dragons have completely understanding and supportive of our decision.
“The player in question is doing it pretty tough, as anybody who’s asked to stay in their house would be. His family have been isolated as well.
“He can text and he’s got use of his mobile phone, but we’re trying to do the right thing and until he gets those test results back he’s stuck there.
“The test was done this morning and we’ll get that back as soon as possible.
“From there, we’ll consider a number of different scenarios, but fingers crossed it comes back negative and we can move forward.
“We’ve got a huge game next week against St Helens, but I reiterate that we’d have loved to have played this weekend.
“The squad have been outstanding and hit some great form.
“They are building and we’d have loved to have continued that this weekend.
“But throughout this we’ve had to control what we can control.
“Hopefully that test will come back negative and we can have a really good week in training before looking forward to playing St Helens.
“The training ground has been totally disinfected, cleaned, sprayed, and the scholarship will train there tonight.
“Our academy will play tomorrow and we absolutely want to continue and fulfil fixtures.
“I know we have some disappointed Rhinos fans out in France and others that have been unable to travel, but hopefully they’ll understand that we’ve got to protect staff and the public.”