The death knell appears to have sounded for hopes in France that the 2019/20 Top 14 season could be brought a conclusion this summer on the field of play. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has outlined how slowly the country will be coming out of the lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak, and that emergence doesn’t provide for a return to rugby any time before September.
French rugby officials had been considering various plans for restarting their suspended season, but the window of playing this summer has now been closed following the announcement of the latest measures.
There were initial hopes that all teams would return to playing matches before a knockout stage conclusion to the season. However, that idea was scrapped last week and now hopes of just playing semi-finals and final in August have also been tossed aside unless French officials want to wait until September to restart the current season rather than commence the new 2020/21 season which – by September – would already be behind schedule.
“The village halls, the multipurpose halls will also remain closed until June 1,” said Philippe in his speech to National Assembly. “To give event organisers visibility, I want to make it clear that major sporting and cultural events, especially festivals, major trade fairs, all events which bring together more than 5,000 participants and are therefore the subject of a declaration at the prefecture and must be organised well in advance, will not be able to be held – 2020 professional sports, including football, will not be able to resume either.”
While the politician didn’t specifically mention rugby, the sport will come in under the restrictions suggested for football. In a statement following the lockdown update, the French league said a meeting will be held on Wednesday by the club presidents of the Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs to decide what to do next.
He never experienced anything like it before…https://t.co/UUc2km1FEQ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 24, 2020
“All stakeholders in professional rugby make strict compliance with public health regulations a top priority. The terms for sporting and economic recovery in the 2020/2021 season will be defined in this context.
“The presidents of professional rugby clubs will meet Wednesday afternoon to take stock and the League will present in the coming days to the Ministry of Sports its proposal for medical protocol, re-conditioning, preparation and calendar of resumption of competitions.
“A steering committee of the League will be convened at the end of this process to fix the terms for the closure of the 2019/2020 season and the start of the 2020/2021 season.”
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