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The resumption of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup is in doubt. 

European Rugby officials have been meeting with their French counterparts and the French department for sport. 

They’re concerned about the new variant of COVID-19, and the travel involved in playing European competitions. 

The third round of pool fixtures are due to be played next weekend.

Earlier this week, French club Bayonne withdrew from their remaining Challenge Cup matches.

It's after eight of their players tested positive for the new strain of COVID-19 following their 28-20 defeat to Leicester on December 19 at the Stade Jean Dauger.

The EPCR and the French National League (LNR) held a video conference on Thursday with representatives of the French government (Ministries of the Interior, Health and Sport, as well as the President’s Office).

The objective of the call was to revise the health and safety protocols surrounding rounds 3 and 4 in both European competitions.

Among the revisions are the addition of PCR testing no earlier than three days before fixtures, in adherence to new French government directives.

That's on top of the existing contact tracing, with all measures put in place to limit the risk of transmission and to allow the tournaments to proceed.

The EPCR is expecting a decision from French authorities on Friday evening or Saturday.

The competitions have already been hit by a number of forfeitures as a result of coronavirus outbreaks at various clubs.

Alan Quinlan | Paul O’Connell’s new gig, McFarland Leinster comments | OTB AM

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