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French rugby hit by extended ban on large public gatherings, Montpellier shut down collective training

By Online Editors
(Photo by XAVIER LEOTY/AFP via Getty Images)

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Hopes that French rugby could quickly ramp up and begin to accommodate large crowds in the coming months at Top 14 and Pro D2 matches were dealt a blow on Tuesday as Prime Minister Jean Castex announced new measures following the recent deterioration of the health situation linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Instead of the hoped-for improvement in the situation regarding crowds ahead of the new 2020/21 French Top 14 season which starts on the first weekend of September, the current ban on events of more than 5,000 people will be maintained until October 30, the day before France are due to host Ireland at the Stade de France in the rescheduled 2020 Guinness Six Nations fixture.

Castex underlined the deterioration of the situation in recent weeks and unveiled a fresh series of measures aimed at strengthening the control of the epidemic.

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He made the announcement at Montpellier University Hospital on the same day that nearby Top 14 club Montpellier announced it had suspended all collective training and postponed its new season launch party until August 21.

In a statement on the club website, Montpellier explained: “The companion of a player in the professional group has been in contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19.

“The medical staff of Montpellier Herault Rugby, in agreement with Xavier Garbajosa, have decided to suspend collective training until all the results of PCR tests carried out on the players have reached the club.

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“As a precautionary measure and in view of the first MHR-Aurillac friendly match scheduled for Friday, August 21, the season launch party in partnership with our equipment supplier Kappa on Friday, August 14, at GGL Stadium is cancelled and postponed to Friday, August 21. We thank you for your understanding.”

The Montpellier announcement followed the revelation that upwards of 25 Covid cases had happened at Stade Francais, while there have been isolated incidents at Agen, Lyon, Angouleme and Provence.

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