Irish interest in the Guinness Pro 14 Rainbow Cup has ended after the cancellation of the upcoming match between Ospreys and Benetton, handing the Italian side a place in the final.
The Ospreys have three Covid-19 cases in their squad. Pro 14 officials are unable to reschedule the game because of a mandate from Public Health Wales that all individuals who were part of the travelling party from the previous fixture now being required to self-isolate, and there are no weekends remaining.
Pro 14 are using the protocol decided prior to the 2020/21 season whereby a game that could not be rescheduled would result in that fixture deemed a 0-0 draw, but four match points would be awarded to the team who had not been the cause of the postponement.
Benetton will receive four match points for the fixture. Adding four points to Benetton's current total of 18 will provide the Italian team with a final standing of 22 points.
It is mathematically impossible for any other team in the table to win more than 20 points, therefore Benetton Rugby will be the 'Northern’ representative in the final on 19 June against a South African opponent.
The Vodacom Bulls or Cell C Sharks are vying for that place. The Bulls are top of the table and need two points from their game against the Sharks on Saturday to book their place in the final.
It means all of the games this weekend in the ‘Northern’ section are meaningless, with Leinster at home to Dragons and Munster in Italy to face Zebre.
It is a remarkable turnaround for Benetton after they failed to win a game in the regular Pro 14 season.