The European Champions Cup and Rugby Union Challenge Cup have been suspended after the French government said the Covid-19 pandemic made the game too risky for French teams, organizers said on Monday.
The French government wrote to the French League (LNR), urging the country’s rugby clubs not to participate in European competitions until “at least February” due to the pandemic.
A meeting will be held on Tuesday on the Six Nations tournament, which is scheduled to start on February 6, the French sports ministry said.
“On the basis of 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”, declared the organizers of the cup competitions. from Europe. declaration.
Britain is battling a new variant of Covid-19 which has led to a sharp rise in infections and hospitalizations.
“It is a priority for the (French) government to fight against all risks of introduction” of more contagious variants of the virus and their “circulation on the territory”, specifies the letter.
The EPCR underlined that it had tried to assure the LNR and the French Ministries of the Interior, Health and Sports, as well as the cabinet of President Emmanuel Macron, that new protocols were in place for the participating clubs.
“While respecting all other guidelines from governments and local authorities, and putting the health and well-being of players and club staff first, the EPCR… remains committed to trying to find a solution that works for it. will resume and end tournaments as soon as possible. », Indicates the press release of the EPCR.
Earlier Monday, EPCR Director-General Vincent Gaillard told the BBC he was convinced the tournaments could be completed in April and May.
He said organizers have already scheduled four weekends in April and May to play the round of 16.
The decision came exactly one year after China, the original source of Covid-19, confirmed its first death from the virus.
Nearly two million people worldwide have died since, including more than 81,000 in Britain who saw the emergence of the new, more contagious strain B117 late last year.
© 2021 AFP