The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup seasons have been temporarily suspended by EPCR following a meeting with representatives of the French government. The announcement means that rounds three and four of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will not go ahead as originally scheduled on the weekends of January 15-17 and 22-24.
The move comes on the back of growing concerns surrounding new strains of Covid, with the French government directing its clubs not to participate in any European fixtures.
Earlier on Monday EPCR chief executive Vincent Gaillard said they are confident both competitions can be completed this season. Speaking to BBC radio, Gaillard said the EPCR were expecting an announcement from the French government and would begin working on alternative arrangements “as soon as this decision comes in.”
And EPCR have now confirmed that both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup seasons have been suspended with immediate effect.
“Following a directive from the French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup at the current time constitutes too great a public health risk, EPCR has no choice but to announce on Monday, 11 January that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily suspended,” an EPCR statement read.
“EPCR and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby took part in a meeting by audio conference last week with representatives of the French ministries of the Interior, Health and Sport, as well as of the President’s office.
“Notable updates to EPCR’s COVID-19 protocols were presented to the French authorities, including the addition of PCR tests no earlier than three days before matches in the tournaments, conforming to French government guidelines and supplementing the existing, meticulous contact tracing measures put in place with a view to limiting the risk of transmission.
“Against the backdrop of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus, the French government has directed that French clubs postpone their participation in EPCR’s tournaments for the month of January, both for matches scheduled in France and for those due to be played in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
“On the basis of this directive, EPCR had no choice but to temporarily suspend the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup and the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup.
“While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, and prioritising the health and welfare of players and club staff, EPCR, in conjunction with its shareholder leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to resume and complete the tournaments as soon as practicable.
“EPCR will be making no further comment at the present time.”
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