Heineken Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup will not be abandoned, says EPCR chief


Exeter's Luke Cowan-Dickie runs with the ball
Exeter won their first Champions Cup title last season

This season’s European Cups will not be abandoned if the French government decides its clubs cannot play their remaining pool fixtures, the competitions’ chief executive says.

Two rounds of Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup pool games on the weekends of 15-17 and 22-24 January are in doubt as authorities consider the impact of a new strain of -19.

But European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) chief executive Vincent Gaillard is confident the tournaments can be completed in April and May.

Gaillard told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme organisers were looking at a “possible suspension” of the tournament, with four weekends already scheduled in April and May to play the knockout stages.

He said if January’s fixtures cannot go ahead, he was confident the four other weekends would “be used in one way or another”.

In December, Toulon pulled out of their Champions match with the Scarlets on safety grounds, while Bayonne have also threatened to withdraw from the Challenge Cup.

As a result EPCR has updated its protocols in a bid to allay French fears and to continue the tournaments.

Gaillard added that EPCR is still waiting for a “definitive directive” from the French government as to whether their clubs can play the remaining pool games.

“We are going to start working on different scenarios as soon as the decision comes in,” he said.

On Saturday Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam suggested that if European games are postponed, Premiership fixtures should be brought forward to fill the gap to avoid “cramping up fixtures later on”.

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