Champions Cup, Premiership Rugby postponed


The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarterfinal fixtures have been postponed indefinitely on Monday due to the coronavirus outbreak, while England’s Premiership Rugby also suspended competition.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quaterfinals were scheduled to take place on April 3-5, but have been postponed, the competitions’s governing body European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have announced.

“Amid growing public health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was taken during a conference call today to postpone the eight matches on the weekend in question and to suspend the European club rugby season,” the EPCR said.

“While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, EPCR, in conjunction with the relevant leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to complete the 2019-20 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments at such a time as that aligns with preventative measures undertaken by an overwhelming majority of sport’s governing bodies and tournament organisers in Europe.

“EPCR’s priority is the health and welfare of players and club staff, and an update regarding the knockout stages of the tournaments will be communicated to all stakeholders as soon as practicable.”

Meanwhile, Premiership Rugby has suspended play for five weeks due to the growing coronavirus outbreak, the league has announced.

The Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins was postponed on Friday after one of the club’s employees showed coronavirus symptoms, despite the organisers insisting that the game was going ahead hours prior to the announcement.

Nine rounds of matches remain in England’s top domestic rugby league before the semifinals and final are scheduled to take place in June.

“We are sorry to tell our fans that we will be postponing our season for five weeks, in line with today’s advice of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which confirmed that the Government would no longer support mass gatherings,” Premiership Rugby said in a statement.

“The safety of our fans and staff is our first priority, and we would like to wish all of those who are affected our heartfelt best wishes and a very speedy recovery.

“We’ll continue to work closely with DCMS and Public Health England, and to follow the advice of medical experts, and work with our clubs to help them to support their own wider communities at this time.”

The Rugby Players Association (RPA) said in a statement: “The RPA fully supports PRL’s decision to postpone Gallagher Premiership fixtures, to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all our members, club employees and rugby fans across the country.”

England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on Monday that they have “suspended all rugby activity” in the country until April 14.

The outbreak has had a large impact across the world of rugby. A total of four games in this year’s Guinness Six Nations, including its final round of fixtures, were postponed due to the outbreak. The PRO14 and Top14 competitions were also suspended.

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