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European rugby finals moved from Marseille

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Paris (AFP)

European club rugby's showpiece Champions Cup final has been moved from its intended venue of Marseille due to fears over the spread of coronavirus, organisers announced on Thursday.

The French port city was due to have staged the re-arranged final on October 17, a day after the second-tier Challenge Cup final.

Alternative venues have yet to be found, European Professional Club Rugby (EPRC) said.

"With tens of thousands of fans scheduled to travel to the south of France, the Board of EPCR and the local organising committee have agreed that insufficient safeguards are currently in place during the public health crisis to stage two high-profile matches at the 67,000-capacity Stade Vélodrome," the EPCR statement explained.

It continued: "As a consequence, EPCR is currently working with its shareholder leagues and unions to secure an alternative venue or venues for the two finals which will be played on the weekend of 16/17/18 October, and details will be announced as soon as practicable."

The EPCR confirmed that Marseille will now hold the 2021 finals at Stade Velodrome on May 21-22, with the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London staging the 2022 finals.

This season's truncated competition will resume as planned with the quarter-finals on September 18-20 with the semi-finals the following weekend.

Venues for those matches "will be announced as soon as possible".

"As is now customary during the pandemic, the matches will be subject to government guidelines with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community to the fore," the EPCR noted.

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