PARIS (Reuters) - Five Champions Cup matches that were postponed because of the French government's COVID-19 travel restrictions have been cancelled, organisers announced on Tuesday.
The five games, and two more in the Challenge Cup, will be classified as 0-0 results.
This weekend's third round fixtures are expected to go ahead as scheduled, however, with the French government set to lift a mandatory 48-hour isolation period for visitors.
Travellers from the UK must currently self-isolate upon arrival on French territory.
The isolation can be waived after 48 hours on presentation of a negative COVID-19 test, but English clubs were nevertheless contemplating a boycott over the shortened quarantine, given the extra costs and scheduling problems involved.
"The 48-hour (isolation) rule imposed on UK citizens is expected to be lifted since the virus is circulating as much here (in France) as in the UK," a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The French sports ministry said in a statement that decisions about sports teams will be "formalised in the next few days but we are moving towards greater flexibility."
News of the round-two cancellations will come as a huge blow, however, with organisers EPCR saying they had been left with no alternative.
It had been hoped the matches could have been played at a later date.
"The options of modifying the tournament formats and/or rescheduling the matches were deliberated in great detail," an EPCR statement said.
"...However, in an increasingly complex fixture calendar due to COVID-19, it was regrettably decided that the only choice in the circumstances was to cancel the matches."
The cancelled matches are: Bath v Stade Rochelais, Sale Sharks v ASM Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets v Union Bordeaux-Begles, Stade Toulousain v Wasps and Stade Francais Paris v Bristol Bears. Each team will be awarded two points.
EPCR said thanked all participating clubs "for their patience and understanding in what are extremely difficult times."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, additional reporting by Martyn Herman in London, Editing by Christian Radnedge and John Stonestreet)