European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have announced that they are postponing the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup in reaction to the continued spread of coronavirus.
With the Guinness Pro14, the French Top14 and Super Rugby all recently announcing decisions to suspend their leagues, EPCR have now followed suit by postponing eight games and suspending the European club rugby season.
EPCR have not stated when they expect the competitions to resume.
It is possible that the period of suspension may need to be extended for a longer period, should COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“The Board of European Professional Club Rugby has decided that this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final matches will not now be played on the scheduled dates of 3/4/5 April,” an EPCR statement read.
“Amid growing public health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was taken during a conference call today (Monday, 16 March) to postpone the eight matches on the weekend in question and to suspend the European club rugby season.
“While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, EPCR, in conjunction with the relevant leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to complete the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments at such a time as that aligns with preventative measures undertaken by an overwhelming majority of sport’s governing bodies and tournament organisers in Europe.
“EPCR’s priority is the health and welfare of players and club staff, and an update regarding the knockout stages of the tournaments will be communicated to all stakeholders as soon as practicable.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, there is also a chance that some leagues will be forced to cancel the conclusion of their seasons entirely, should postponements stretch further into the year.
The Gallagher Premiership is also expected to announce their decision to suspend the league shortly.
It is expected that this year’s Six Nations, which has seen a number of games postponed, will not be completed until October.
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