Sport

Final matches of Champions Cup and Challenge Cup group stage scrapped as tournaments head straight to knockout stage | Rugby news


The French government barred the top 14 clubs from participating in cross-border competitions this month over fears over a new strain of coronavirus; The other two pool rounds were initially postponed, but Premiership Rugby general manager Darren Childs says they have now been dropped

Last update: 01/14/21 8:00 p.m.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will move directly to the knockout stage

Europe’s last two group rounds will be canceled, with the Champions and Challenge Cups moving directly to the knockout stage, Premiership Rugby has confirmed.

The French government has barred the top 14 clubs from participating in cross-border competitions this month over fears over the Kent strain of coronavirus, which has spiked the number of cases in England.

The remaining two rounds were initially postponed, but PRL chief executive Darren Childs said they have now been dropped due to lack of space in an already full schedule.

The organizers of the EPCR tournament will decide within fifteen days on the format of the competitions, with a knockout phase launched by the round of 16 the probable option.

“The decision was taken very quickly by the EPCR executive not to try to postpone these matches,” Childs said.

1:06
Sky Sports News’s James Cole explains the reasons for the decision to postpone Six Nations women’s and under-20 tournaments

Sky Sports News’s James Cole explains the reasons for the decision to postpone Six Nations women’s and under-20 tournaments

“We have a difficult season. There’s no room at the end of the season because of the Lions and we don’t have a spare weekend in our season once we resume.

“Playing European rounds while the Lions are playing would have been very damaging to the European tournament. So it was very quickly decided by the CEOs of the three leagues that we would finish the tournament in the remaining four weekends.

“Everyone manages their national and international calendars as well as possible. The exact structure has not been agreed and we have already started these discussions.

After learning of the French government’s decision on Monday, PRL opted to put in place a break rather than bringing Gallagher Premiership matches forward to fill empty weekends.

The decision not to change the current league schedule was taken to protect the welfare of players and staff, especially on the medical side.

“In the past three weeks, 70 players have tested positive for COVID. During that time we have lost five games,” said PRL rugby director Phil Winstanley.

“It made absolutely no sense to move games forward from the end of the season until this time, when COVID is at its highest prevalence and risk.

“Taking them forward would give us the greatest chance of losing these games and determining the outcome by awarding points. It just doesn’t make sense.

“From a public health perspective, you have seen over the past 24 hours some serious concerns about the sport right now and the way it is presenting itself.

“By not moving the games, it gave us the opportunity to give ourselves a break and support the health and well-being of some players.”





Source link

Back to top button