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Rugby calendar in chaos as Champions Cup set to be postponed and Six Nations under threat


Exeter Chiefs celebrate with the European Champions Cup trophy (David Davies/PA)

Exeter Chiefs celebrate with the European Champions Cup trophy (David Davies/PA)


Exeter Chiefs celebrate with the European Champions Cup trophy (David Davies/PA)

The remaining two rounds of the Champions Cup pool stage are set to be postponed due to the escalating Covid-19 situation, with the upcoming Six Nations also under threat.

With cases in Ireland and the UK soaring dramatically, the French sports ministry has recommended that matches in the Champions and Challenge Cup involving French teams be postponed and as a result, European games scheduled for the next two weekends will not go ahead.

The Ministry of Solidarity and Health informed the French National Rugby League (LNR) and European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) on Thursday that the government wanted short-term measures introduced to stop the matches going ahead.

In a statement sent on Saturday, the French Sports Ministry said "the French Government is moving, in the short term, towards the adoption of measures to restrict or even prohibit the participation of French team sports clubs in (rugby) matches including teams from the United Kingdom."

The ministry said it was writing this weekend to invite the LNR to postpone the upcoming games, "in accordance with the wishes expressed by several professional French rugby clubs over the last few days".

When the matches might be played instead remains to be seen, with the Six Nations scheduled to start in early February and run until mid-March. However, that tournament is now under threat too, with the French Sports Ministry adding that it would set up a specific meeting on the Six Nations at the beginning of next week, without saying who would take part.

With two free weekends set to appear in the calendar due to the postponed European games, it is understood that the postponed PRO14 clash between Leinster and Munster, and a number of other PRO14 clashes that were unable to be played earlier in the year, could now be fixed for the next fortnight.

The previous round of the Champions Cup suffered from Covid disruption, with Toulon pulling out of their fixture away to the Scarlets ahead of kick-off due to dissatisfaction with the tournament testing protocols, among a number of games that did not go ahead as planned.

Leinster and Munster both have 100% records in Europe after two games, with Johann van Graan's men producing a famous comeback win in Clermont in their last outing.