In order to minimise the risks created by the coronavirus pandemic, EPCR has communicated a set of Match Day Operating Standards and COVID-19 Protocols to all clubs which have qualified for the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments.

The standards and protocols have been approved by a Medical Advisory Group consisting of the Chief Medical Officers of the six unions, as well as public health advisors and senior administrators from Premiership Rugby, the LNR and the PRO14.

Ahead of this weekend’s Round of 16 matches, the following is a non-exhaustive list of the key elements included in the documentation:

Testing
Players and staff will be tested for COVID-19 on a twice-weekly basis with one of the tests taking place no earlier than three days before a match kicks off.

Training days
Clubs are advised to continually risk-assess their training facilities with masks to be worn indoors at all times, socially-distanced meetings to take place outdoors and training schedules to be reviewed.

Transport
Socially-distanced seating plans for travel to be recorded, and no car sharing to training or to matches will be permitted.

Match day
No non-playing squad members to attend, warm-ups to be filmed to assist if contact tracing is required, no face-to-face try celebrations and no post-match gatherings in dressing rooms or enclosed spaces.

Cancelled match
If it is deemed that a match might be in doubt due to, for example, a club having one or more positive PCR test results arising from testing three days prior to kick-off, EPCR’s Match Day Medical Risk Assessment Committee will meet to determine whether the match can be played safely.

If a match cannot be played safely, it will be cancelled and the club whose COVID-19 status has NOT forced the cancellation will progress to the next round. If the COVID-19 status of BOTH clubs forces a match cancellation, or if there is some other reason why a match is unable to go ahead at the scheduled time, then the matter will be referred to a Match Result Resolution Committee to determine which club (if any) will progress to the next round.