Euro finals under threat amid virus fears
NEWS: European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have issued a statement ahead of April’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-finals, as sporting fixtures across Europe continue to be affected by the spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, the Six Nations confirmed that Saturday’s scheduled meeting of France and Ireland in Paris will not go ahead, bringing the number of postponements in this year’s championship up to three.
Ireland’s home game against Italy, set for last Saturday, and England’s trip to play Italy in Rome this weekend had already been postponed.
This weekend’s Wales v Scotland game in Cardiff is expected to go ahead as planned.
With the threat of coronavirus continuing to increase across Europe, there was concern that April’s return of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup could also be under threat.
Yet while EPCR are not postponing any fixtures yet, they confirmed that they will support any preventative measures that may be required.
“It is currently envisaged that the Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final matches will go ahead as scheduled on the weekend of 3/4/5 April,” an EPCR statement read.
“EPCR intends to complete all eight fixtures and will continue to monitor developments while liaising with the relevant league and union bodies, as well as governments and local authorities.
“EPCR is fully supportive of any preventative measures that might be required in the interests of overall public health in relation to Covid-19 and will respect instructions provided by authorities.”
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Any postponements would further clog up an already congested fixture calendar.
There is a possibility that this year’s Six Nations may not be completed until October, and EPCR could struggle to fit in their own rescheduled fixtures should they need to postpone games.
There is also the possibility of Champions Cup and Challenge Cup games being played behind closed doors.
In France, 19 deaths and 1 126 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded as of Sunday evening.
The number of coronavirus cases in the UK is now at 74, while there are 33 confirmed cases on the island of Ireland.
In Italy, the worst-affected European country, 7 375 people have so far been confirmed to have contracted the virus, with an exclusion zone in the north of the country enforced on Monday.