EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay has forecast an “exciting few weeks ahead” as the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup get underway this weekend with the Round of 16.

“The first four rounds were outstanding, with some incredible match-ups in the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup on the road leading to Dublin – and it promises to be an exciting few weeks ahead,” he said.

The Scot reported that Heineken Champions Cup average attendances are back to pre-Covid levels and that the 2.2 million people who watched Stade Toulousain beat Munster Rugby in Round 4 in January was a new record audience for French television.

“We are really pleased with the progress we have had this year,” he added. “It has been exciting to welcome our friends from South Africa. They have not only added some sparkle, but also some incredible challenges for teams from the northern hemisphere and we’ll see that again this weekend when we play the Round of 16.

“We are really pleased that the South African project has worked. We are also really pleased with the quality of matches and the viewing figures have been incredible, particularly in France and South Africa.”

However, on the day EPCR announced the launch of impACT, its new sustainability strategy, he warned there was still “lots to do”.

“One of the areas we want to do more on is sustainability and the environment,” he said. “We take that very seriously.

“We want to use our competitions to shine a spotlight in terms of sustainability and we are starting to work through programmes to do that.”

The strategy consolidates and builds on EPCR’s existing and ongoing work in sustainability and social responsibility.

It also highlights EPCR’s commitment to delivering sustainability and positive environmental change across the organisation, from its administration to its tournaments, players and partnerships.