June 25, 2020 / 9:59 AM / 12 days ago

Champions Cup, Challenge Cup finals to be held in October

FILE PHOTO: European Champions Cup Final - Leinster Rugby v Saracens - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - May 11, 2019 Saracens players celebrate winning the final with the trophy after the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

(Reuters) - The Challenge Cup and Champions Cup knockout stages, which were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place in September with the respective finals on Oct. 16 and 17, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said on Thursday.

The quarter-finals of both competitions will be played on the weekend of Sept. 18-20 with the last-four matches scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 25-27, EPCR added, after the dates were agreed at Wednesday’s board meeting.

“... EPCR remains committed to staging the matches in Marseille, however, 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 said in a statement.

The finals of both competitions were originally scheduled to take place in May.

The announcement adds a layer of confusion to discussions about a newly-aligned international season, with the European clubs competition and clubs in England and France opposed to plans for a two-month window in October and November.

The EPCR said new Champions Cup and Challenge Cup formats for the 2020-21 season were being considered as a consequence of widespread fixture disruption due to the 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,” the statement added.

The EPCR said any changes would apply to next season’s tournaments, which are scheduled to start on the weekend of Dec. 11-13.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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