(Reuters) - The European rugby season was suspended on Monday after the governing body European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) postponed the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final matches that were scheduled for April 3-5.
The development comes after the British government advised against mass gatherings that required the presence of emergency workers.
Three English clubs -- Champions Cup holders Saracens, Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints -- are in the quarter-finals of the elite European competition, while five British sides are in the last eight of the second-tier Challenge Cup.
"Amid growing public health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was taken during a conference call... to postpone the eight matches on the weekend in question and to suspend the European club rugby season," the EPCR said in a statement https://www.epcrugby.com/2020/03/16/epcr-quarter-final-matches-postponed.
"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."
The EPCR said it was committed to finding a solution which would allow the campaign to be completed.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Ken Ferris)