The French sports ministry has recommended that French clubs not play clubs from Britain in the upcoming rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup.
The next two rounds of European rugby now look unlikely to go ahead, as the French government looks set to pass more restrictive rules coronavirus regulations.
Top of Pool A with a maximum 10 points, @leinsterrugby have been devastating as ever with ball in hand 🔵
The four-time champions lead the way with a remarkable 2️⃣7️⃣9️⃣ carries so far in the #HeinekenChampionsCup 💪
Check out the top four ⤵️https://t.co/jmqKsjctOM
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 7, 2021
The Ministry of Solidarity and Health informed organisers the French National Rugby League (LNR) and European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) on Thursday that the government wanted short-term measures introduced to stop the matches going ahead.
In a statement sent to Reuters on Saturday the sports ministry said “the French Government is moving, in the short term, towards the adoption of measures to restrict or even prohibit the participation of French team sports clubs in (rugby) matches including teams from the United Kingdom”.
The ministry said it was writing this weekend to invite the LNR to postpone the next matches with British clubs “in accordance with the wishes expressed by several professional French rugby clubs over the last few days”.
All Top 14 clubs had been due to play matches in both the Heineken Champions Cup and the European Champions Cup next weekend, but Bayonne had reportedly already pulled out of their fixtures, following a rise in coronavirus cases after playing an English club.
Six Nations concerns
Should French clubs be stopped from completing their European fixtures, the Six Nations Championship may also have to be postponed.
The French sports ministry is reportedly setting up a specific meeting for the Six Nations regarding the viability of the tournament.
The Six Nations is due to start on the 6th of February, with France taking on Italy in Rome while England play Scotland in London. Wales are due to welcome Ireland to Cardiff the following day.
European competitions are not the only major rugby events now in serious doubt, with the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa also in serious jeopardy.