The European Professional Club Rugby have announced that the next two rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup have been suspended temporarily.
The third and fourth rounds of the tournaments were scheduled on the weekends of 16 and 23 January but now will be played at a later date following concerns over the new strain of Covid-19.
Earlier, the French government advised the rugby clubs to not participate in cross-border competitions against British sides this weekend to control the outbreak of the Covid and also recommended EPCR to adapt the testing guidelines used in Top 14 where the squad will be tested three days before the game as opposed to the start of the week.
"Following a directive from the French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup at the current time constitutes too great a public health risk, EPCR has no choice but to announce that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily suspended.
"EPCR and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby took part in a meeting by audio conference last week with representatives of the French ministries of the Interior, Health and Sport, as well as of the President's office.
"Notable updates to EPCR's COVID-19 protocols were presented to the French authorities, including the addition of PCR tests no earlier than three days before matches in the tournaments, conforming to French government guidelines and supplementing the existing, meticulous contact tracing measures put in place with a view to limiting the risk of transmission.
"Against the backdrop of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus, the French government has directed that French clubs postpone their participation in EPCR's tournaments for the month of January, both for matches scheduled in France and for those due to be played in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
"On the basis of this directive, EPCR had no choice but to temporarily suspend the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup and the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup."