WARRIORS will resume their EPCR Challenge Cup campaign with the visit of RC Toulon on Saturday after the game’s governing bodies cleared the competition for resumption.
The next two rounds of both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will take place after round two was halted because of concerns over the Omicron Covid variant last month.
Following dialogue with the leagues and unions, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has been informed exemptions for what is termed the ‘pursuit of an economic activity’ which have been put in place by the French government will apply to clubs and match officials who are travelling between France and the UK.
Further information will also be sought from the French authorities regarding possible new conditions which may be applicable to travel between France and the UK.
While recognising these are particularly challenging times for all its stakeholders, EPCR will continue to work with the leagues and unions so that this month’s matches can be played safely.
The leading eight Heineken Champions Cup clubs from each of the pools will qualify for the knockout stage, and with 10 clubs progressing to the Challenge Cup Round of 16, plus a further six qualifiers from the Heineken Champions Cup ahead of the Marseille finals next May, EPCR is optimistic this season’s tournaments will be played to a successful conclusion.
In addition, discussions are ongoing regarding the five Heineken Champions Cup and two Challenge Cup Round 2 fixtures which were postponed arising from changes to border controls between France and the UK.
Warriors will therefore face Toulon at Sixways on Saturday (January 15) at 5.30pm
It will be Warriors’ first game against the three-times winners of the Champions Cup who have a star-studded squad featuring the likes of Cheslin Kolbe, Eben Etzebeth and Sergio Parisse as well as former Warriors back-row forward Cornell du Preez who joined the French giants last summer.
Warriors head coach Jonathan Thomas is looking forward to a big month of rugby after the squad returned from a weekend off at the start of 2022.
“It’s a really exciting January for us with some big games so we hope to continue on the upward curve we’ve been on in recent weeks,” Thomas said.
Warriors go into the game on the back of just one win in five games in all competitions after last Saturday’s 22-19 reverse against basement side Bath at The Rec in what was the hosts first Premiership win of the season.
Thomas’s men played all but the first 75 seconds with 14 men after British and Irish Lions loosehead prop Rory Sutherland was sent off on his comeback after six weeks out for a head-on-head tackle on Bath tighthead prop Will Stuart.
Semesa Rokoduguni and Max Ojomoh scored first-half tries for Bath but Worcester were 19-14 ahead at the break, thanks to scores from Jamie Shillcock, Joe Batley and Gareth Simpson.
However, a try from Tom de Glanville and an Orlando Bailey penalty edged the hosts home.