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EPCR statement: Decision taken on European rounds three and four

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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EPCR have finally shed light on the status of the upcoming Champions and Challenge Cup fixtures which were in jeopardy of going ahead as scheduled due to the pandemic restrictions that came in before Christmas and led to numerous round two matches getting called off. 

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While the virus initially forced the cancellation of a number of matches that particular December week, the tournaments were thrown into further chaos when a tightening of travel regulations forced the postponement of a heap of other games featuring French Top 14 clubs in opposition against teams from the Gallagher Premiership.   

Those restrictions have remained in place since then in France and it left clubs in the dark this week about their upcoming round three and four matches, but that anxiety has now been relieved following some behind the scenes politicking. 

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England’s Lewis Ludlam guests on RugbyPass Offload
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England’s Lewis Ludlam guests on RugbyPass Offload

A statement on Friday afternoon read: “EPCR is pleased to clarify that pool stage matches in rounds three and four of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup are set to go ahead as scheduled.

“Following dialogue with the leagues and unions, EPCR has been informed that exemptions for what is termed the ‘pursuit of an economic activity’ which have been put in place by the French government will apply to clubs and match officials who are travelling between France and the UK.

“Further information will also be sought from the French authorities regarding possible new conditions which may be applicable to travel between France and the UK. While recognising that these are particularly challenging times for all its stakeholders, EPCR will continue to work with the leagues and unions so that this month’s matches can be played safely.

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“The leading eight Heineken Champions Cup clubs from each of the pools will qualify for the knockout stage, and with ten clubs progressing to the Challenge Cup Round of 16, plus a further six qualifiers from the Heineken Champions Cup ahead of the Marseille finals next May, EPCR is optimistic that this season’s tournaments will be played to a successful conclusion.

“In addition, discussions are ongoing regarding the five Heineken Champions Cup and two Challenge Cup round two fixtures which were postponed due to unforeseen circumstances arising from changes to border controls between France and the UK. No further comment will be made at this time.”

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