French government decision leaves European club rugby in limbo | Champions Cup


European club cup competitions are set to be suspended after the French government advised its clubs not to participate in cross-border matches due to the variant of the coronavirus which has skyrocketed the transmission rate in Great Britain. Brittany – but he will wait before deciding whether France should postpone their Six Nations games.

The French Sports Ministry on Thursday met the organizers of the Champions and Challenge Cups, the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) and the Top 14 of the National Rugby League (LNR) after some French clubs called for a boycott of the competitions Europeans to protest against the test regime.

The ministry said on Saturday: “The French government is moving, in the short term, to adopting measures to restrict or even ban the participation of French team sports clubs in matches including teams from the United Kingdom.

“The Ministry of Sports wrote this weekend to the LNR to invite it to postpone the next matches between French clubs and British clubs, in accordance with the wishes expressed by several professional French rugby clubs in recent days.

Bayonne, which last weekend said it was not filling its last two Challenge Cup matches after a Covid-19 outbreak that followed their visit to Leicester three weeks ago, called for a boycott with Toulon , who was angry with them. punished after refusing to play the Scarlets last month.

French clubs wanted tests to be carried out 72 hours before a game rather than at the start of the week, alongside the adoption of the Top 14 rule that if at least three players test positive the affected club finds itself in isolation and do not play. until the next round of testing.

The EPCR agreed to make changes and believed it had LNR’s support on Thursday for the two tournaments, which were due to resume on Friday, to continue. The intervention of the French government, which the NRL has indicated it would accept, has changed the situation.

The EPCR said on Saturday evening that it would seek to continue discussions with the NRL. “No directive has been given and the NRL has been asked by the French government for its position on the protocols of its clubs participating in EPCR tournaments in the context of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus in France.

“The EPCR will now discuss this matter with the NRL as soon as possible before making any further comments.”

The EPCR has already started making plans in case the top 14 clubs are pulled out of the next two rounds. He will suspend competitions and seek to reorganize the games.

It’s a relentless season, but with the next two weekends likely to be free, the NRL and Pro14, which started before the Premiership, plan to use the space to revamp matches postponed due to the virus.

The Premiership has adopted a cancellation policy as there is no time to play postponed matches in a campaign that started more than two months late. He faces the prospect, along with his broadcast partner, BT Sport, of two weekends without action. He would have the option of postponing two rounds to allow Europe to resume later in the season.

“What we do from a Premiership point of view will be interesting if the next two sets are called off,” said Dean Richards, Newcastle rugby manager, after his team’s victory over Gloucester at Kingston Park on Saturday. Premiership Rugby said he would wait for a statement from the EPCR before commenting, but while there are no matches on both weekends, it wasn’t just the Saracen players who joined the English side after have gone weeks without playing.

French officials repeatedly referred to England during Thursday’s meeting and Saturday’s statement made no reference to Italy or Ireland, France’s first two opponents at the Six Nations. They are not expected to meet part of the British mainland until the last day of February, when Scotland is due to travel to Paris. They will face England at Twickenham on March 13.

When asked about its intention to pressure the UK government to speak to the French about the Six Nations, the Rugby Football Union said its position was that the tournament would go ahead as planned.

One of the reasons the French were worried about the next two rounds of Europe was that his clubs would be involved in 20 matches against teams from England, Scotland and Wales. France would have three matches against teams that would evolve in a bubble, unlike clubs whose players return home after training. The threat to the Six Nations is the virus rather than the French government as the death toll rises across Europe.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce said on Friday he thought it was morally wrong for elite-level football to continue, asking what would be considered serious enough to put the sport on hold. With the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa uncertain, it may be possible to push the Six Nations away in the summer. But that would be a decision made by broadcasters and could imply a reduction in revenues for a financially struggling sport.

As one administrator said on Saturday, “It’s dangerous to plan ahead because you don’t know what the job will be next week, let alone a few months from now. You can only wait and see. “


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