France rugby’s leading club official has called on EPCR to officially postpone the scheduled April 3/4/5 dates for the Heineken Champions and Challenge Cup tournaments. Matches are due to be staged in Exeter, Clermont, Dublin and Toulouse in the Champions Cup on the weekend of April 4/5, with Challenge Cup games fixed for Toulon, Leicester, Bordeaux and Bristol from April 3.

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However, Paul Goze, the president of Ligue Nationale de Rugby, wants EPCR to abandon its current wait-and-see approach and postpone all the quarter-final matches as soon as possible. “We ask the EPCR to take a decision as soon as possible, that is to say within the next two or three days on the suspension of the quarter-finals,” said Goze in an AFP newswire story carried on rugbyrama.fr.

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“It is up to the EPCR to make this decision, not us. We do not have the power to decide on the suspension of European competitions. The French clubs being at a standstill, without a championship… it does not seem possible to me that we can make the quarters of European Cups but it is up to the EPCR to make the decision formally.”

French rugby opted on Friday to indefinitely suspend its Top 14 and PRO D2 championships in reaction to coronavirus pandemic.

The previous day, following an announcement by the Guinness PRO14 that it was calling an indefinite halt to its tournament, an EPCR statement read: “An update regarding the matches will be communicated as soon as practicable.

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“EPCR remains fully supportive of the preventative measures which have been introduced to date in the interest of overall public health and will respect further directives by governments and local authorities.”

In France, April 15 has been a date suggested for the resumption of its domestic championships, but Goze wasn’t optimistic this will happen.

“There is no resumption date,” he said. “Depending on the date, there are things you can do or not do. There is a first date set for April 15, but it does not seem to be very credible that all of the measures will be lifted at that time.

“We will wait to have details, which will surely come in the coming weeks. We will move forward in the pandemic so we can see how it evolves. We will then be able to see what are the conditions for resuming competition. The goal is to play the semi and finals on the scheduled dates.

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“All the hypotheses are on the table to finish. It’s all going to work, I don’t have an answer today… but we are thinking about how to end the season. We are optimistic: we tell ourselves that the final phases are in three months.

“By then, we can reasonably think that the pandemic will have decreased in intensity and that we will be able to have a certain number of dates allowing us an end of the sports season. Only the evolution of the pandemic will tell us if we will be able to put everything in place.”

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