Following a directive from French authorities, the EPCR have announced that the Champions Cup has been temporarily suspended.
Despite trying to allay the fears of the French Ministry for Sport with coronavirus safety protocols, the French government were increasingly wary of a new coronavirus strain detected in Britain.
Following a request from the French government, the EPCR have had "no choice but to announce on Monday, 11 January that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily suspended."
Following a directive from French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the #HeinekenChampionsCup constitutes too great a public health risk, EPCR has no choice but to announce that the 2020/21 tournament is temporarily suspended:https://t.co/UlilOVV0TN
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 11, 2021
The tournaments were due to resume this weekend, with Leinster supposed to travel to England to take on Northampton Saints.
EPCR chief Vincent Gaillard said that there was a possibility that there could be a brief suspension of the tournaments, but that dates pencilled in for April and May will be used in "one way or another".
"We have four weekends currently scheduled over the month of April and May, but have six weekends required to finish the season.
"I think a possible suspension is what we're looking at, but we are very confident that those weekends we have scheduled in April and May will be used."
Here's the ECPR's statement in full:
Following a directive from the French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup at the current time constitutes too great a public health risk, EPCR has no choice but to announce on Monday, 11 January that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily suspended.
EPCR and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby took part in a meeting by audio conference last week with representatives of the French ministries of the Interior, Health and Sport, as well as of the President’s office.
Notable updates to EPCR’s COVID-19 protocols were presented to the French authorities, including the addition of PCR tests no earlier than three days before matches in the tournaments, conforming to French government guidelines and supplementing the existing, meticulous contact tracing measures put in place with a view to limiting the risk of transmission.
Against the backdrop of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus, the French government has directed that French clubs postpone their participation in EPCR’s tournaments for the month of January, both for matches scheduled in France and for those due to be played in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
On the basis of this directive, EPCR had no choice but to temporarily suspend the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup and the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup.
While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, and prioritising the health and welfare of players and club staff, EPCR, in conjunction with its shareholder leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to resume and complete the tournaments as soon as practicable.
EPCR will be making no further comment at the present time.