Champions and Challenge Cups postponed due to coronavirus outbreak

Rugby Union’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup semi-finals and finals have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The finals of both competitions had been scheduled for the weekend of 22-23 May in Marseille.

European rugby chiefs say they remain committed to completing the campaigns this season.

“It is planned to reschedule the quarter-finals, semi-finals and Marseille finals,” a statement said.

The quarter-finals of both competitions, scheduled for the first weekend of April, had already been called off, with all rugby union across the continent currently on hold.

The Pro 14 – featuring sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales – has been indefinitely suspended, but the English Premiership still hope to resume their campaign, even if matches need to be played behind closed doors.

European rugby organisers say they will work with the leagues in order to “restructure a conclusion to its season as part of a wider rescheduling of the remainder of the season in Europe”.

A statement added: “All contingencies are underpinned by the requirement to protect the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community.

“It is planned to reschedule the quarter-final and semi-final matches, as well as the Marseille finals, in line with fixtures in the professional league competitions, subject to advice from government and local authorities.”

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) ended the season for all levels below the top-flight on Friday.

There has been no professional sport in England since 15 March, while there has been no top-flight rugby union in England since the weekend before.

Premiership chief executive Darren Childs has suggested multiple matches could be played behind closed doors at one venue to get the campaign finished.

Many of the Premiership’s 12 clubs have asked their players and staff to take 25% pay cuts because of the impact of the outbreak.

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