Another opening weekend match in France has been postponed due to concerns about Covid-19. Ligue Nationale de Rugby officials had already postponed Stade Francais’ round one Top 14 game and a likewise decision had been reached with Friday’s planned Rouen Normandy PRO D2 game. 

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The club coached by Richard Hill, the former England World Cup final scrum-half, had been gearing up for a huge new season, recruiting the likes of Carl Fearns from Lyon. However, their hopes of starting the 2020/21 campaign with a bang against Carcassonne have been put on hold due to health fears. 

A statement released by the league authorities read: “Following several positive cases within the Rouen Normandy workforce, in the application of the Covid-19 medical protocol validated by the management committee of August 25, and after the opinion of the Covid-19 expertise commission, an opening day Pro D2 game is officially postponed.

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Referee JP Doyle was a guest on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series during summer prior to being made redundant by the RFU

“Rouen Normandie vs US Carcassonne, initially scheduled for Friday, September 4, at 7pm, will take place at a later date.”

It was March when Fearns, who moved to France in 2015 from Lyon, agreed his switch to Rouen ahead of his 31st birthday. The back row had feared he might not be able to find a club due to the recruitment crisis caused by the pandemic, but his future was secured for the next two seasons after he decided to stay in France – albeit at a lower level. 

The postponement is the second opening weekend fixture to be called off as officials had agreed on Tuesday not to allow Friday’s Top 14 meeting in Paris between Stade Francais and Bordeaux.

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It was August 6 when it first emerged that Stade had an in-house issue with the virus and the situation has been very slow to improve, an August 19 update detailing how players have suffered lung issues as a result of the virus which led to the cancellation of the club’s series of Top 14 pre-season matches.  

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