ENGLAND'S game against the Barbarians is OFF – plunging Eddie Jones' Six Nations warm-up into chaos.
After 12 Covidiots burst the BaaBaas bubble for a night out in London the tourists had managed to scramble together a side.
But Jones and the RFU were not convinced that the last-minute, patched-up Barbarians were safe to play just a week before a Six Nations title-shot in Italy.
Ex-England skipper Chris Robshaw and rookie Tom de Glanville – son of former Red Rose captain Phil – were part of the infamous BaaBaas break-out.
Saracens stars Richard Wigglesworth and Jackson Wray – as well as a current member of the RFU board – were also present.
First and foremost, the cancellation is a huge disaster for Jones' plans.
But it is also another embarrassment for the sport which has suffered endless bumps in the road during the Covid-19 crisis.
It is also a huge financial blow for a union who are strapped for cash.
Twickenham chief exec Bill Sweeney will likely have to write a cheque to SkySports, who were due to show Sunday's game, unless they can strike a deal for another time.
A Twickenham statement said: "The RFU has cancelled the England v Barbarians fixture scheduled for Sunday 25 October.
"As part of its ongoing investigation into a breach of the Covid code of conduct that took place on 21 October, the RFU has today discovered there was an earlier undisclosed breach.
"That took place on 20 October when a number of Barbarians players left the hotel bubble without permission and without informing organisers about their whereabouts.
"The RFU has concluded that the players leaving their Covid-secure environment on 20 October without then isolating from the rest of the group on their return has resulted in the bubble environment being compromised.
"[There is] the potential risk of Covid transmission from individuals outside the bubble to everyone in the Barbarians team and management.
"The RFU is therefore left with no alternative but to cancel the game."
Twickers boss Sweeney added: “We are incredibly disappointed to be calling a halt to this fixture, we know how much fans were looking forward to seeing the teams play.
"However, our priority is to protect the health and safety of the England squad and the other international teams they will go up against this Autumn.
"There has been a great deal of effort put into Covid codes of conduct and planning for games, including cooperation with Premiership Clubs to release additional players to fulfil the fixture safely.
"We are all incredibly frustrated and disappointed that the actions of a number of Barbarians players mean we no longer feel it is safe for the game to go ahead.”
The union added: "The RFU investigation is ongoing and no details on individuals or numbers of players involved will be confirmed until the investigation is concluded."
After being busted Wigglesworth tweeted: "Embarrassed and beyond gutted to have let Vern Cotter and everyone @Barbarian_FC down as well as the RFU.
"Should not have happened and for that I am truly sorry.
"I’ve let a lot of people down including myself and wish I’d done it differently. Sorry again."
Saracens said: "Saracens is extremely disappointed to learn that some of its players breached the agreed Covid code of conduct protocol whilst on Barbarians duty.
"Although not on club duty whilst with the Barbarians, these players have fallen well short of the high professional standards that are expected at Saracens.
"Representing the invitational side is a privilege which they have now missed out on due to their poor judgement.
"Management has spoken to the players involved about their responsibilities of representing Saracens away from the club and the impact that these actions have on everyone associated with the club.
"We are thinking particularly of our loyal supporters who have been magnificent in recent months and would have been looking forward to watching an extremely strong Saracens contingent at Twickenham on Sunday.
"All in question have apologised for their actions. The club will be making no further comment."
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