EPCR refuse to rule out Brexit travel disruptions for quarter-finals

Player eligibility will not be a problem this season; dates, times and TV confirmed

Peter O’Mahony and Dan Goggin celebrate Munster’s win over Exeter which secured their place in the Champions Cup knockouts. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Peter O’Mahony and Dan Goggin celebrate Munster’s win over Exeter which secured their place in the Champions Cup knockouts. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

The EPCR, European rugby’s governing body, is unable to rule out travel disruptions from Friday, March 29th, Brexit day, but the eligibility of foreign players in the Saracens, Edinburgh and even Ulster squads following the UK’s exit from the European Union will not be an issue this season, The Irish Times understands.

However, tournament rules permitting two non-European players will come under review before next season, with exemptions for South Africans and Pacific Islanders potentially no longer existing for UK clubs.

It remains unclear how Ulster Rugby will be categorised.

“No one will be left sitting on the tarmac,” said EPCR’s chairman Simon Halliday this week, before adding, “The Challenge Cup might be the bigger challenge. Northampton travelling to Clermont and Bristol going to La Rochelle could be an issue.”

Munster fans will have official access to almost 17,000 tickets for their Champions Cup quarter-final against Edinburgh in Murrayfield on Saturday March 30th, with many fans travelling the day before to avoid the strain of red eye flights to make the 12.45pm kick-off.

The notoriously difficult start time – for players and supporters – is influenced by the primary broadcaster, BT Sport. This being the only free-to-air quarter-final, Channel 4 and Virgin Media are also providing live coverage.

The travelling team in the Champions Cup quarter-finals has access to 25 per cent of the tickets, so Ulster fans could number close to 13,000 for the Aviva stadium meeting with Leinster, also on Saturday, at 5.45pm. Tickets for the general public go on sale on February 6th.

Connacht supporters can buy up to 3,000 tickets to attend the AJ Bell stadium for their Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Sale Sharks on the Friday night.

If Munster beat Edinburgh they will play Saracens or Glasgow in the semi-final, facing Glasgow in Dublin but Saracens on English soil. The winners of Leinster versus Ulster face Racing 92 or Toulouse on the weekend of April 20th/21st with Leinster or Ulster staying in the Aviva stadium should Toulouse progress.

Meanwhile, Paddy Jackson has agreed a “long term” deal with London Irish, according to the Daily Telegraph, where the 27-year-old will be reunited with former coaches Declan Kidney and Les Kiss. Kidney gave Jackson his first Ireland cap against Scotland in 2013.

CHAMPIONS CUP QUARTER-FINALS

Saturday March 30th
Edinburgh v MUNSTER, BT Murrayfield, 12.45pm – (Channel 4/Virgin Media/BT Sport)

Saracens v Glasgow Warriors, Allianz Park, 3.15pm (BT Sport)

LEINSTER v ULSTER, Aviva Stadium, 5.45pm (BT Sport)

Sunday March 31st
Racing 92 v Toulouse, Paris La Défense Arena, 3.15pm, Irish time (BT Sport)

CHALLENGE CUP QUARTER-FINALS

Friday March 29th
Sale Sharks v CONNACHT, AJ Bell Stadium, 7.45pm (BT Sport)

Saturday March 30th
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins, Sixways, 8.15pm (BT Sport)

Sunday March 31st
La Rochelle v Bristol Bears, Stade Marcel Deflandre, 12.45pm Irish time (BT Sport)
ASM Clermont Auvergne v Northampton Saints, 6.0pm (BT Sport)
 

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