Coronavirus: European rugby finals postponed but EPCR ‘committed to completing season’

Jack de Menezes
The Independent
The draw for the 2019.20 European Champions Cup takes place on Wednesday: Reuters
The draw for the 2019.20 European Champions Cup takes place on Wednesday: Reuters

European Professional Club Rugby have postponed the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals due to the various coronavirus measures being taken across the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, but are determined to complete the season when sport is able to resume.

A statement issued on Tuesday confirmed that the semi-finals (1-3 May) and finals (22-23 May) of both competitions will be suspended indefinitely, with governing bodies unsure of when rugby union will be able to restart.

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This season’s finals were due to take place in Marseille, but France currently finds itself in lockdown in an attempt to stem the spread of Covid-19, which both Ireland and Great Britain have subsequently followed, and after already postponing the quarter-finals that were due to be staged next weekend, a decision was taken to move all remaining fixtures in both competitions.

An EPCR statement read: "In making the decision, the board is abiding by the official directives and recommendations of the relevant authorities in its territories to restrict the Covid-19 pandemic.

"In light of the earlier postponement of its quarter-final matches and with fixtures in Europe's professional league competitions currently suspended due to the public health crisis, EPCR believes it necessary to provide as much clarity as possible to all stakeholders regarding the knockout stages of its tournaments.

"To that end, EPCR is working with the leagues and unions to restructure a conclusion to its season as part of a wider rescheduling of the remainder of the season in Europe, with all contingencies underpinned by the requirement to protect the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community.

"EPCR remains committed to completing the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season, and it is planned to reschedule the quarter-final and semi-final matches, as well as the Marseille finals, in line with fixtures in the professional league competitions, subject to advice from government and local authorities."

The Rugby Football Union has abandoned all remaining rugby union matches below the Premiership, though still plan on completing the top flight regardless of how long it will take, while the Top 14 in France are yet to make an official decision on whether the league will restart or not. The Pro14, which features teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa, has been cancelled and will not resume.

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