In a statement issued yesterday from Switzerland, the tournament organisers also said that:
“As part of its future planning, and with the extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront, EPCR can confirm that a number of tournament formats are being considered for the 2020/21 season.”
“Ongoing discussions with EPCR’s league and union shareholders regarding new formats have included the possibility of a 24-club Heineken Champions Cup with eight representatives from each of Europe’s leading league competitions, played over eight weekends. If adopted, any new format would apply to next season’s tournament only on an exceptional basis.”
“In the meantime, EPCR remains committed to making every effort to conclude the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season subject to official advice and with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community in mind. It is hoped that the 2020 finals could be staged on 16 and 17 October.”
Coverage across much of the mainstream media included a reference to the Sport for Business Interview with PRO14 Rugby Commercial Director Dermot Rigley this week where he expressed the hope that the Guinness PRO14 Championship would be played out as well.
It is likely in 2021 that player welfare will become one of the hottest of topics if all the plans for extended Guinness Six Nations, potentially extended European Action, Domestic Leagues and a Lions Tour to South Africa all have to be squeezed in.
One potential format believed to be under exploration is a reduction to eight groups of three teams each and the winners going straight to quarterfinals. This could see the tournament take one weekend off its current schedule, reducing the windows needed from nine to eight.
“Fair play you are doing a brilliant job of keeping us all informed and motivated”