Champions Cup final in Marseille set for October 17

Paris (AFP) –


The coronavirus-postponed Champions Cup final could now be held on October 17 in Marseille with the second-tier Challenge Cup fixture a day earlier, the organisers said on Tuesday.

Both tournaments were suspended at the quarter-finals stage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The last-eight and semi-finals of the competitions could take place from mid-September onwards.

The director general of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) Vincent Gaillard told AFP: "This schedule has been co-ordinated with the three professional leagues in Europe but remains subject to external factors, be that health, medical or logistical."

"The month of October remains a window traditionally kept for clubs and European Cups and we envisage making the most of it," he added.

Reports have claimed World Rugby want to play Test matches during October, and the English and French leagues wrote to the global governing body on Monday asking for further discussions about the use of the month.

Gaillard said EPCR wants further talks between the parties and remains open about the dates.

"Everyone knows compromises will have to be made. It's very clear. Our opinion is not to say 'we will play in October as if it was business as usual'. We have to consider all parties, not just the unions, and find a solution together," he said.

"If this solution leads us to finding an alternative which would be not playing in October but another moment, then so be it," he added.

- 'Counter-productive' boycott -

Earlier on Monday, French newspaper Midi Olympique claimed Top 14 sides could refuse to feature in next season's top-tier competition if an increase to eight clubs from the league cannot feature in the continental tournament.

"The threats of a boycott were blown out of proportion. As far as I know, this threat had not been discussed formally by the French league or by the clubs," Gaillard said.

"If this boycott threat is proven, but I don't think it will be, it would be totally counter-productive," he added.

Gaillard said the body could change the makeup of the Champions Cup due to the impact the virus outbreak has had on the end of domestic campaigns.

"We have to find a format that's adaptable. A certain number of options are on the table... To consider the exceptional circumstances for the end of the season for each of our three leagues," Gaillard said.

"We will adapt and we have a format for 24 clubs, which is very attractive if needed. In principle we should have a solution in June."