Champions Cup and Challenge Cup suspended for two rounds due to coronavirus concerns | Rugby news


Exeter won the Champions Cup title last season

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been temporarily suspended amid the continued impact of the coronavirus, organizers of the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) competition have announced.

Two rounds of pool matches in the two European club competitions – which are due to take place on the weekends of January 15-17 and 22-24 – have been postponed as authorities respond to the impact of a new strain of Covid -19.

The French government had advised – but not ordered – their teams to avoid cross-border matches on Saturday.

An ECPR statement read: “Following a directive from the French authorities that the participation of the 14 best clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup at present constitutes too great a risk for public health, the ‘EPCR has no choice but to announce that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily on hold.

“The EPCR and the National Rugby League participated last week in an audio conference meeting with representatives from the French Ministries of Interior, Health and Sports, as well as the President’s Office.

“Notable updates to the EPCR’s COVID-19 protocols have been presented to French authorities, including the addition of PCR testing no earlier than three days before tournament matches, in line with French government guidelines and supplementing Existing and meticulous contact tracing measures put in place. in order to limit the risk of transmission.

“In the context of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus, the French government has ordered French clubs to postpone their participation in EPCR tournaments to the month of January, both for matches scheduled in France and for those which will be played in UK and Ireland.

“Based on this directive, the EPCR had no choice but to temporarily suspend the group stage of the Heineken Champions Cup and the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup. ”

It had already been confirmed that the 2021 Women’s Six Nations had been postponed as tournament organizers were forced to concede defeat in an attempt to hold the competition in its traditional window of February and March. The months of April and May are now an alternative.

Premiership will take a two week hiatus

Exeter rugby manager Rob Baxter and Bristol Bears counterpart Pat Lam had said they believed Premiership matches should be brought forward to free up space in the match schedule as matches are now likely to accumulate for English clubs.

This would potentially create room for group matches in the two European tournaments that would end later this season on two current Premiership weekends.

However, shortly after announcing the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup suspension, Premiership Rugby revealed that they will be having a fortnight’s break.

Premiership Rugby Managing Director Darren Childs said: “The well-being of everyone involved in Premiership Rugby is crucial to us and this break in the season gives us the chance to give our hardworking players a well-deserved rest. , management, staff and match officials.

“The Gallagher Premiership Rugby season will return – as planned – on Friday January 29 when the Bristol Bears host Bath Rugby. ”


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