Five Champions Cup and two Challenge Cup matches rearranged due to French Covid rules

Seven European games postponed this weekend

Seven European matches due to take place this weekend have been postponed due to Covid travel restrictions brought in by the French government.

Two European Champions Cup games had already been cancelled because of Covid cases in the Leinster and Ospreys squads, with Montpellier and Racing 92 respectively awarded the match points, while Saracens forfeited their match against Pau in the European Challenge Cup due to positive tests.

Now a further five Champions Cup and two Challenge Cup matches have been postponed because of France’s new Covid rules, which restrict travel from the UK. From Saturday, anyone who is not a French resident or citizen must give “a compelling reason” to travel.

So Bath v La Rochelle and Sale v Clermont, which were due to take place on Saturday, and Sunday’s Scarlets v Bordeaux-Begles, Toulouse v Wasps and Stade Francais v Bristol matches have all been postponed in the Champions Cup as well as Worcester v Biarritz and London Irish v Brive in the Challenge Cup.

An EPCR statement read: “Following a meeting of the EPCR Board today (Friday, 17 December) it has been decided that due to current exceptional circumstances, Round 2 matches in the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup between French and UK clubs scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday are postponed.

“This is a consequence of new travel measures between the UK and France which are being introduced by the French Government.

“The Board received briefings from the three professional leagues which included updated information from the respective governments, however, there were insufficient assurances that these matches would not be at risk.”

The tournament organisers will provide an update on when the matches will be rescheduled “as soon as practicable”. However, the rugby calendar is already so packed it is difficult to know when, or even if, they will be played.

The European Champions Cup format in 2021-22 does include a two-legged round of 16, so that could be reduced to a one-off match with any postponements arranged for the first weekend scheduled for the round of 16. However, much will be depend on what happens in the coming weeks and whether January’s remaining pool fixtures can be played.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.