Eddie Jones’ European scouting mission under threat if Champions and Challenge Cups are postponed with French government considering ordering their clubs not to take part in continental fixtures over Covid fears
- Eddie Jones may be denied the chance to scout players in European matches
- The French government may order teams not to take part in continental fixtures
- Jones will attend three matches this week as he fine-tunes his Six Nations plans
Eddie Jones is attending three games this weekend as he fine-tunes his Six Nations plans but the England head coach may be denied the chance to gauge contenders in European auditions over the next fortnight.
European Professional Club Rugby, the organisers of the Heineken Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup, are set to discover on Saturday whether the French government will order their clubs to cease involvement in continental fixtures, due to coronavirus fears.
Days after Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad told Sportsmail that the European events should be cancelled this season, there is a growing danger that that doomsday scenario may come to pass — although an initial suspension of the tournaments is more likely.
Eddie Jones may be denied the chance to watch European matches over the next fortnight
Jones is back from Japan and straight into a busy schedule. He was expected at Bath on Friday for their Premiership clash with Wasps, Exeter on Saturday for their game against Bristol before watching Harlequins v London Irish on Sunday, and would have also hoped to watch players in Champions Cup encounters as he finalises his selections.
Instead, there is a growing possibility that no further matches will take place, after Saturday, before the England squad is named on January 26.
A pre-championship training camp will begin the following day, at the Lensbury hotel in Teddington, south west London, which was used before and during the recent Autumn Nations Cup.
The French government may order their clubs to cease involvement in continental fixtures
Jones is set to name his England squad on January 26 but there is a possibility there may be no further games after Saturday
The national squad are normally based at a five-star hotel in Bagshot, Surrey, but the alternative HQ allows them the convenience of being able to maintain a strict Covid bubble and train on site.
England are due to launch their 2021 campaign with a Calcutta Cup showdown against Scotland at Twickenham, behind closed doors, on Saturday, February 6.
However, the prospect of disruption to the annual northern hemisphere Test showpiece will be regarded as increasingly inevitable if European club competitions have been suspended on government orders.
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