EPCR deem ties between French and UK sides in round two as cancellations

Leinster’s game away to Montpellier not affected and remains a 28-0 win for French side

The five Heineken Champions Cup games in round two between French and UL sides have been declared as 0-0 draws. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The five Heineken Champions Cup games in round two between French and UL sides have been declared as 0-0 draws. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The Heineken Champions Cup organisers EPCR have decided to deem the five postponed round two games between French and UK sides as cancellations, thus declaring them 0-0 draws and awarding two match points to each of the relevant sides.

The five matches, along with two in the Challenge Cup, were initially postponed due to the introduction of new travel measures between France and the UK.

While many options were explored, an EPCR statement said: “In an increasingly complex fixture calendar due to Covid-19, it was regrettably decided that the only choice in the circumstances was to cancel the matches.

“The EPCR Executive has decided that the appropriate solution is to record the results in each of the five Heineken Champions Cup and the two EPCR Challenge Cup fixtures in question as 0-0 draws with two match points awarded to each club.”

The five Champions Cup matches concerned are Bath v La Rochelle, Sale v Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets v Bordeaux-Bègles, Toulouse v Wasps and Stade Francais v Bristol Bears.

However, the ruling does not affect the three cancelled games, which includes the Montpellier-Leinster game in round two and will remain a 28-0 bonus-point win for Montpellier.

“A distinction should be drawn between the decisions in respect of the seven Round 2 matches in question and other tournament fixtures which were previously cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreaks or forced isolations affecting player availability.

“Those previously cancelled fixtures could not have been played as scheduled under any circumstances, whereas the clubs involved in the Round 2 matches in question were all cleared and available to contest the matches.

“Therefore, the determined outcomes of the three previously cancelled or forfeited Heineken Champions Cup fixtures, and the one EPCR Challenge Cup fixture, will stand.”

The decision to amend the postponed games to cancellations and deem them 0-0 draws, which will not be well received by several of the clubs involved, at least serves to clarify the two respective pool tables in advance of the concluding third and fourth rounds over the next two weekends.

The net effect of the EPCR decision is that Ulster now stand alone in second place in Pool A, a point behind Racing and four ahead of Leinster, who are in seventh place with two rounds now completed.

Munster lie second in Pool B, in a three-way tie on nine points alongside leaders Harlequins and Leicester, with Connacht sixth on six points.

The two-legged round of 16 in the second and third weekends of April thus remain in place, while also allowing the organisers additional wriggle room in the event of further disruptions over the next two weekends.

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