England v Barbarians: Thirteen Barbarians players charged by RFU after coronavirus protocol breached

By Chris JonesBBC rugby union correspondent
General view of an England training session at Twickenham
England play their final match of the postponed 2020 Six Nations against Italy on Saturday

Thirteen Barbarians players have been charged by the Rugby Football Union after last Sunday's game against England was cancelled because of coronavirus protocol breaches.

Players face a range of charges including "individual breaches of the protocols" and "providing false statements during an investigation", the RFU said.

BBC Sport understands former England captain Chris Robshaw, who was among the players who apologised for the breach, is one of the players charged.

Richard Wigglesworth, Sean Maitland, Jackson Wray, Manu Vunipola, Tim Swinson, Calum Clark, Tom de Glanville, Joel Kpoku, Simon Kerrod, Fergus McFadden, Juan Pablo Socino and Alex Lewington are the other players charged.

It is not clear which charges relate to which players.

Rugby is a laughing stock - Jones

England head coach Eddie Jones, whose side can win the Six Nations this weekend, said: "We understand that rugby at the moment is a bit of a laughing stock and we all love the game.

"No-one likes to see a game called off because of a breakdown in the protocols in society at the moment. That's what happened.

"It's not good for rugby, but we have got an opportunity to turn that around. It's a weight we carry and it's a weight that we will enjoy carrying.

"We are lucky enough to play the game at the highest level and we want to make sure we put the game back where it needs to be.

"We have a great game in rugby and we don't like to see it portrayed as something that isn't a serious sport, as it has been."

The cancellation of the England v Barbarians game cost the RFU around £1million in lost broadcast and sponsorship revenue, as well as a chance for England to warm-up for Saturday's clash with Italy in Rome.

The RFU - English rugby's governing body - said it would only publish players' names after the hearings because of the public scrutiny. It said that breaches of protocols included leaving the hotel without permission or without informing organisers of their whereabouts.

The players left their hotel bubble - contrary to team protocols - to have dinner, and a number of players also went to a central London pub.

Players may face fines, match bans "or any other suitable sanction", but there will be no police investigation into their actions.

The game's cancellation means England go into their final Six Nations fixture against Italy on Saturday having not played a competitive match since March.

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