Champions Cup organisers EPCR have fired a pre-emptive Brexit strike, insisting the British deadline for leaving the European Union won’t cause its tournaments regulatory chaos before their completion this season.
The Friday, March 29, date for Britain to quit Europe coincides with the Champions and Challenge Cup quarter-finals weekend.
However, six weeks before those matches are due to be played, EPCR have finally reassured the clubs which have qualified for the knockout stages that a registered player who is a citizen of the United Kingdom will be considered as a European player for the purposes of the tournaments as far as the remainder of the 2018/19 season is concerned.
EPCR have also stated they are considering a number of minor rule changes which would resolve the issue of the European player status for future seasons and overcome any further potential regulatory issues posed by Brexit and the UK separation from the European Union.
? 3?? months to go until ? #ChampionsCup final time ?
It's the business end of the tournament and knockout rugby ? is on the horizon ?
Which two teams will make it to Newcastle? ? Tag below pic.twitter.com/gJSRE5LU3V
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) February 11, 2019
Quarter-final weekend in the Champions Cup will also see a quick evaluation of what, if any, implications Brexit has on the UK border.
Ulster are due to bring around 12,500 supporters with them from Northern Ireland to Dublin for their sold-out March 30 clash with defending champions Leinster in Dublin, while Munster are Edinburgh-bound that same day.
In the Challenge Cup, Irish side Connacht are due to play at Sale Sharks on Brexit Day, with French duo La Rochelle and Clermont respectively hosting English pair Bristol and Northampton two days later in France.
Meanwhile, EPCR are looking at Murrayfield as the venue to stage a potential all-Scottish Champions Cup semi-final, while the Paris La Défense Arena, which is the new home of Racing 92, is being viewed as a potential venue if the French club beat Toulouse and secure a last-four match against either Leinster or Ulster.
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.