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EPCR chair criticises French government over Champions Cup suspension

The chairman of European rugby's governing body has hit out at the French government after their ...

The chairman of European rugby's governing body has hit out at the French government after their concerns led to the suspension of the Heineken Champions Cup.

Simon Halliday described the French government's decision as "extremely disappointing".

This season's Champions and Challenge Cups are due to resume with a knockout format in the spring. The final two rounds of pool matches were suspended due to French concerns regarding the spread of a UK strain of coronavirus.

Halliday told The Rugby Pod, "I will choose my words carefully. We have put up with and survived and dealt with the British government’s multiple decision-making and of course, everyone has the right to change their minds and we have seen plenty of that as well."

He believes elite sport - and rugby in particular - have shown themselves to be safe environments amid the pandemic.

Halliday added, "You’re never going to make a call on people’s health but I turn the question to another question which is what are the safest environments that have been created during this pandemic?

“I pay great credit to the sports authorities, sports grounds, the stadia, certainly in the UK and everywhere, they have created incredibly safe environments for those players to go and play so we’re not talking about crowds. We’re talking about players."

The EPCR chairman believes there was as better solution than discarding the remainder of the pool phase.

"The French government’s decision was extremely disappointing," Halliday said, "

"Yes, there have been one or two cry-offs and one or two numbers of infections but, as a percentage, I pay credit to what sports stadia have done to create secure environments and that should have been the key issue.

“Flying players to and from a secure environment, I’m not sure they looked at that in enough depth and certainly the presentation the LNR and EPCR made was very strong, that the protocols were absolutely best in practice. So it’s disappointing.”

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Challenge Cup Champions Cup Epcr France Heineken Champions Cup Roxana Maracineanu Simon Halliday