Monday 11 January 2021 6:40 pm

English rugby clubs handed two-week break after European competitions suspended amid French boycott

Premiership rugby clubs have been handed a two-week break after European competition was suspended.

Heineken Champions Cup and Chellenge Cup games due to take place on the next two weekends have been called off due to the French government telling its teams not to take part while Covid-19 cases remain on the rise.

Premiership Rugby confirmed it would not bring its games forward, meaning it will resume as planned on 29 January.

Read more: Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers cancelled as fifth Premiership rugby fixture in a fortnight is axed due to Covid-19 cases

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), which organises the Champions and Challenge Cups, announced the suspension today.

It said: “Against the backdrop of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus, the French government has directed that French clubs postpone their participation in EPCR’s tournaments for the month of January, both for matches scheduled in France and for those due to be played in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“On the basis of this directive, EPCR had no choice but to temporarily suspend the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup and the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup.”

Premiership Rugby Chief Executive, Darren Childs said: “The welfare of everyone involved in Premiership Rugby is crucial to us and this break in the season gives us the chance to hand some much-needed rest to our hard-working players, management, staff and match officials.

“The Gallagher Premiership Rugby season will return – as scheduled – on Friday 29 January when Bristol Bears host Bath Rugby.”

The French authorities’ unwillingness to let its clubs play internationally raises further doubts about whether the Six Nations can go ahead next month.