The EPCR are holding their breath today after it emerged that the French government may not allow Top 14 clubs to fulfil their continental fixtures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The French government is worried about the prospects of their teams returning from foreign countries following the issues that arose around a Bayonne Challenge Cup fixture recently. The French club were forced to withdraw from the competition after a number of their players tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus following their clash with Leicester Tigers in December. They were forced to close the entire club on a temporary basis due to the outbreak.
If the French clubs are unable to fulfil their next two rounds of fixtures, the competition will be in a race against time to be completed. The next two matchdays are set to take place on the weekends of 15-17 January and 22-24 January.
EPCR have amended their rules for testing since the Bayonne incident, with all clubs now having to complete testing within three days or less of their upcoming matches. EPCR provided a statement regarding the meeting that the French government held on Thursday to discuss the best way forward for their clubs.
“EPCR and the LNR participated in a meeting by video conference yesterday with representatives of the French government. The objective of the meeting was to present the revised COVID-19 protocol for the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.”
The statement continued with an assertion that the French government will come to a decision soon.
“Updates to the protocol include the addition of PCR testing no earlier than three days before fixtures, in adherence to new French government directives.
“This change supplements the existing contact tracing, with all measures put in place to limit the risk of transmission and to allow the tournaments to proceed.
“EPCR expects to receive a decision from the French authorities shortly.”