Champions & Challenge Cup Moving To Straight Knockout

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THE final two rounds of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been cancelled with both competitions moving to a straight knockout basis for the remaining rounds.

The French government earlier this week prohibited the Top 14 clubs from competing in cross border tournaments following fears of the spread of an English strain of the coronavirus.

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Initially, the final two rounds were postponed but PRL chief executive Darren Childs says they have now been abandoned because of the lack of space in an already full schedule.

The EPCR will decide within the fortnight what format the competitions should take, with a knockout phase launched by a round of 16 the likely option.

Munster and Leinster had won both their games and would qualify for the knockout phase of any rejigged format while Connacht and Ulster would drop down to the Challenge Cup.

19 December 2020; Damian de Allende of Munster during the Heineken Champions Cup Pool B Round 2 match between ASM Clermont Auvergne and Munster at Stade Marcel-Michelin in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Photo by Julien Poupart/Sportsfile

“The decision was made very quickly by the executive at EPCR that we would not try to reschedule those games,” Childs said.

“We have a tough season. There’s no space at the end of the season because of the Lions and we have no spare weekends in our season once we resume.

“To play European rounds when the Lions is taking place would have been very damaging to the European tournament. So it was decided very quickly by all three leagues CEOs that we would complete the tournament in the four remaining weekends.

“Everyone is managing their domestic and international calendars to the best of their ability. The exact structure has not been agreed and we’ve already started those discussions.”

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