Covid stalker and different format have seen Europe’s premier club events lose its fizz

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I am unsure if it is just me, but there does not appear to be the usual fanfare for the arrival of Europe’s premier competitions – the Champions and Challenge Cups.

Perhaps the new format adopted last year due to the Covid pandemic and which ultimately had to be rejigged midway through the first phase continues to haunt a competition envied across the world.

Indeed the threat of Covid still stalks the tournament – the game between Scarlets and Bristol Bears has already fallen victim – and organisers will be watching on nervously hoping they can get their first four rounds either side of Christmas completed in a meaningful way.

The rejigged competition ended up skewed last season and there is always the threat of that happening again – well it has with Bristol picking up a 28-0 win over Scarlets after the Welsh region -marooned in Belfast for the past 10 days – only had 14 fit players for their tie and conceded.

Cardiff and Munster, are also without . . .

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