Heineken Champions Cup organisers EPCR are reviewing the feasibility of staging its finals in Marseille in October having announced new dates for the knockout stages this morning
EPCR revealed its proposed new dates for the remaining 2019-20 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup round after they were officially agreed at a meeting of its Board on Wednesday, at which the IRFU was represented by its chief executive Philip Browne and fellow board member Mick Kearney.
Of the Irish provinces, Leinster and Ulster remain and have quarter-finals against Saracens (home) and Toulouse (away) respectively. These have been scheduled for the weekend of September 18-20, a week after the Guinness PRO14 final is being proposed.
The European semi-finals have been set for September 25-27 with the Challenge Cup final on Friday, October 16, with the Champions Cup decider the following day. Yet the complexities of cross-border competition in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic which caused the shutdown of rugby and all sports from late February and early March remain evident.
All of these proposed dates will be subject to government guidelines and while EPCR said it remains committed to staging the finals in Marseille, it added: “The situation is under review in light of public gathering and international travel restrictions which might be in place at the time of the finals.
EPCR and the local organising committee in Marseille intend to clarify the position regarding the finals, including details of ticket refunds where applicable, as soon as possible.
The ongoing consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are also set to impact the 2020-21 European campaign with EPCR having already made public it is discussing a variety of options for the new season, a situation reiterated in Thursday’s statement.
“New Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournament formats for the 2020-21 season are being considered as a consequence of widespread fixture disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A 24-club Heineken Champions Cup with eight representatives from each of Europe’s leading league competitions is one of the options under discussion.
“Any changes would apply to next season’s tournaments, which are scheduled to start on the weekend of 11/12/13 December, only on an exceptional basis. An official announcement regarding formats will be made once all discussions are concluded.”
New EPCR dates:
Friday, October 16
Saturday, October 17