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EPCR statement: Seven more round two European games are called off

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Round two of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments has been plunged into chaos after new travel measures introduced by the French Government resulted in the postponement of seven matches featuring Top 14 clubs against UK opposition.  

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A statement read: “Following a meeting of the EPCR board on Friday, it has been decided that due to current exceptional circumstances, round two matches in the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup between French and UK clubs scheduled for Saturday and Sunday are postponed.

“This is a consequence of new travel measures between the UK and France which are being introduced by the French Government. 

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“The board received briefings from the three professional leagues which included updated information from the respective governments. However, there were insufficient assurances that these matches would not be at risk. Therefore, the intention is to reschedule the following round two fixtures to a later date:

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
Bath Rugby vs Stade Rochelais
Sale Sharks vs ASM Clermont Auvergne
Scarlets vs Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Toulousain vs Wasps
Stade Francais Paris vs Bristol Bears

EPCR CHALLENGE CUP
Worcester Warriors vs Biarritz Olympique
London Irish vs CA Brive

“All other round two matches scheduled for Friday evening and over the weekend will go ahead as planned. EPCR will provide a further update as soon as practicable and will continue to liaise directly with all clubs, leagues and stakeholders.”

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While the above seven games will be rescheduled, EPCR had earlier awarded 28-0, five-match points wins to Montpellier, Racing and Pau after their respective matches versus Leinster, Ospreys and Saracens were cancelled. Leinster were especially annoyed with that outcome.  

The latest call-offs mean that this weekend’s twelve-game Champions Cup programme has been reduced to just five matches – Ulster-Northampton on Friday, Harlequins-Cardiff, Glasgow-Exeter and Munster-Castres on Saturday, and Leicester-Connacht on Sunday. In the Challenge Cup, only the three Friday night matches featuring Dragons-Lyon, Toulon-Zebre and Gloucester-Benetton have survived.    

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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FEATURE Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink
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