Champions Cup: All postponed matches cancelled

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Last month’s postponed European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches have been cancelled and recorded as 0-0 draws.

Seven games between British and French clubs were originally called off due to travel restrictions imposed by the French government.

It was initially hoped that the encounters could be rearranged but the EPCR have now decided to award each team two points each.

Still concerns over remaining pool matches

The same safety measures imposed on travellers to and from the UK still threaten the final two rounds of the pool stage despite exemptions being secured for what is termed the “pursuit of an economic activity”, relaxing the rules for players, coaching staff and officials.

Clubs travelling to France, however, are concerned about the quarantine rule, which requires negative Covid-19 tests to leave isolation. Any positive PCR or antigen test would lead to a longer quarantine period in the country.

The PA news agency understands that on Tuesday evening the outlook on modified quarantine rules being granted by Paris remained hopeful, reducing the threat of a boycott by English teams who fear the potential for players being left in France.

Bath, Sale and the Scarlets are due to play European Cup games in France against La Rochelle, Clermont Auvergne and Bordeaux-Begles respectively on Saturday and Sunday.

Newcastle, meanwhile, are scheduled to visit Challenge Cup opponents Biarritz on Friday.

For the round two games, rather than issue a 28-0 defeat to one team as happens in the event of an outbreak of coronavirus, it has been decided a scoreless draw is a more appropriate outcome.

“The matches were initially postponed following the unforeseen introduction of new travel measures between the UK and France, which resulted in EPCR being unable to obtain assurances that existing cross-border travel exemptions for players, club staff and match officials would remain in place,” a statement read.

“The options of modifying the tournament formats and/or rescheduling the matches were deliberated in great detail by all parties.

“However, in an increasingly complex fixture calendar due to Covid, it was regrettably decided that the only choice in the circumstances was to cancel the matches.

“On the basis that none of the clubs involved were in a position to play once the EPCR board had postponed the seven matches, the only option open to the EPCR executive was to record the results as 0-0 draws and to award two match points to each club.”

Crowd restrictions lifted in Scotland ahead of Six Nations

Scotland have received a boost after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that restrictions on crowds at outdoor sporting events will be lifted on January 17.

The news means rugby supporters can return to stadia from next Monday onwards having effectively been shut out since December 26, after a limit of 500 was imposed three weeks ago in a bid to deal with a surge of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

In a decision driven by the Government’s “cautious optimism” over the way things have evolved since the measures were first put in place, Sturgeon gave the green light for Murrayfield to be able to hold a full house when Scotland host England and France in the Six Nations.

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