The Heineken Champions Cup trophy
HEINEKEN Cup organisers have confirmed this Monday evening that '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 this Monday evening that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily suspended'.
As a result, Munster’s scheduled Heineken Champions Cup Round 3 and 4 encounters against Clermont Auverne and Harlequins will not take place over the coming two weekends.
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.
In a statement issued this evening EPCR say that 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.
The statement continued: "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."
Munster had been due to host ASM Clermont Auvergne at Thomond Park this Saturday in Round 3 of the Champions Cup. Munster, who have won their opening two pool fixtures, were then due to travel to the Twickenham Stoop to face Harlequins in their final fixture.