Last month should’ve been a great one for all European rugby fans. The Champions Cup final should’ve been held at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille. An event that – according to The Guardian rugby correspondent Robert Kitson – could’ve made the Monaco Grand Prix seem like a ‘garden fete’.
Instead, rugby players and fans are stuck at home with little more to do than play Rugby Star at the Mummy’s Gold Casino and, as Kitson again put it, ‘speak French to the cat’.
Champions Cup Final still possible in October?
The EPCR Board’s last statement published on March 24 has announced that the 2020 season of the Champions Cup – as well as the final scheduled for May 22/23 – were postponed indefinitely. But all is not lost.
The season hasn’t been canceled, only postponed – and heads of European rugby are adamant about completing this year’s competition.
Frozen by Covid-19 at the quarter-finals stage
Both the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup were frozen at the quarter-finals stage by the public health measures imposed due to the ongoing pandemic.
Having little more to do than visit Mummys Gold casino online or, enjoy watching some classic matches throughout the month of May.
We've got some BELTERS coming up in June 🙌
Kicking off with @Munsterrugby's epic semi-final win in 2000, followed by the first British team to lift the tophy as @bathrugby won in 1998 😍#HeinekenChampionsCupRewind schedule ➡️ https://t.co/aKqd0XXJng pic.twitter.com/vab4yh9dhX
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 27, 2020
Postponed yes, but not canceled – the ECPR was hoping to stage the Championship Finals series on the 16th and 17th of October respectively, even if this meant going head-on with World Rugby.
Scheduling conflict for Champions Cup
Unfortunately, World Rugby left the sport’s European governing body out of the discussions about the schedule of international rugby. Apparently, World Rugby and the Rugby Football Union have proposed that, if the July Tests can’t proceed as planned, extra internationals could be scheduled for October. The EPCR, in turn, apparently hasn’t been properly consulted about this new schedule.
“That directly clashes with us and we are informing World Rugby we fully intend to use our October window if we need it,” EPCR Chairman Simon Halliday said; cited by The Guardian in April. “That directly clashes with us and we are informing World Rugby we fully intend to use our October window if we need it.
“We could play our semis and finals on those two weekends or, alternatively, just use one of them for the final and try and find two other dates in August and September for the quarters and semis.”
Postponed, not canceled – still possible in October?
Halliday also addressed the rumors about the 2019/20 season’s early ending. Although the date at which European rugby could resume is still very fluid – to say the least – canceling is out of the question, it seems.
“When you have club tournaments locked into multi-year contracts with partners and broadcasters, [which is the lifeblood of the game] you can’t just cancel everything. If we don’t do what we are contracted to do, there are serious ramifications,” he said.
If necessary, major knockout games will be staged without spectators. The new playing calendar will be built around player welfare, both on and off the field.
Follow Last Word on Rugby for all the latest news on Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup leading towards a conclusion to the interrupted 2020 season.
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