Warriors hope to play postponed cup-tie before Christmas

Agen players sing the French national anthem during a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the paris attacks ahead of the European Rugby Challenge Cup match between London Irish and Agen. Picture: Getty
Agen players sing the French national anthem during a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the paris attacks ahead of the European Rugby Challenge Cup match between London Irish and Agen. Picture: Getty
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Glasgow expect to know in the coming days when their postponed European Champions Cup match away to Racing 92 will take place, with hopes that it can be fitted in before Christmas.

The Warriors’ scheduled opening Pool 3 fixture in Paris was postponed on Saturday following Friday evening’s tragic terrorist attacks in the French capital. It was one of five games in France called off across the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions and European rugby chiefs are in talks with the national leagues, including the Guinness Pro12, over when to accommodate the re-arranged games in what is an already crammed rugby calendar.

Glasgow will now open their Champions Cup campaign at home to Northampton Saints at Scotstoun this Saturday evening, while Edinburgh are due to travel to southwestern France on Thursday morning to play Agen in their second 
Challenge Cup pool game on Friday evening.

One option is for a Guinness Pro12 game at the end of this month or early December to be moved to a free weekend during the Six Nations, opening up the opportunity to play the Racing game before the end of the year.

However, with several leagues to negotiate with and the fixture list already so packed, it is not an easy task for European Professional Club Rugby, the organisation which runs the competitions. EPCR chairman Simon Halliday told the BBC: “All the fixtures are already compressed, we have a unique problem. There are turnaround issues, players need to recover, it’s a big match in what is seen as the toughest pool.”

The former Bath and England player added: “There is no immediate, obvious weekend we can choose. That is fact.

“If we did play a midweek game, are you faced with trying to re-arrange a weekend [English] Premiership match? That is a possibility.”

Halliday added teams could not just play a big pool match away from home and then an important league game two days later. Games scheduled to be hosted by Racing 92, Oyonnax, Bordeaux-Begles and Toulon were all postponed by EPCR and French domestic rugby chiefs Ligue Nationale de Rugby following the Paris atrocities that left 129 dead.

Eight matches across both tournaments are due to take place on French soil later this week, including Edinburgh’s trip to Agen in the Challenge Cup and Paris-based Stade Francais hosting Munster in the elite tournament on Sunday.

“EPCR is currently working in conjunction with the LNR, PRL [Premiership Rugby] and the Pro12, as well as the relevant clubs, to consider all possible fixture permutations with the aim of coming up with a workable solution as to how the matches can be rescheduled in an already crowded rugby calendar,” an EPCR spokesman said.

“EPCR and the three leagues hope to be in a position to make an announcement as soon as possible.”

Bath’s Pool 5 appointment with Champions Cup holders Toulon at Stade Felix-Mayol on Sunday was postponed and the French club’s president Mourad Boudjellal, has suggested the postponed game against Bath could take place during the RBS Six Nations.

The knockout stages of the Champions Cup are not set to take place until early April while the Six Nations kicks off on 6 February.

“Playing on Wednesday isn’t possible,” he told French sports daily L’Equipe. “I can only see one solution... It would mean that the [national team] coaches would have to accept not being able to call up international players of Bath or Toulon in order for us to be able to play the match during a matchday of the Six Nations.”