This weekend’s opening round of the 2020/21 Top 14 season has suffered a major setback with the postponement of the Stade Francais match at home to Bordeaux. The game was one of two pencilled in for Friday night to get the new campaign up and running six months after the 2019/20 season was cancelled.

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The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic was the culprit for the stoppage last March and it continues to play spoilsport as this Friday’s Parisian postponement is the legacy of last month’s outbreak inside the Stade training ground which affected many of their players and staff.

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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England forward Courtney Lawes guests on All Access, the RugbyPass interview series hosted by Jim Hamilton

That ultimately resulted in Stade Francais approaching league officials about a start-of-season postponement and the Top 14 authorities have now agreed to that request. 

A statement on Tuesday from Ligue Nationale de Rugby read: “Following the request formulated by Stade Francais and after discussions with the two clubs concerned and analysis of the situation of the Stade workforce, the LNR met this morning and decided to postpone the Stade Francais-Bordeaux Begles match initially scheduled for Friday.

“The health of the players is the top priority of professional rugby authorities and the LNR office noted that following the Covid-19 epidemic which affected the club, Stade Francais were unable to align the required number of frontline players this weekend in conditions that ensure player safety.

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“Given the exceptional circumstances linked to the Covid-19 epidemic at the origin of this situation, the postponement of the match appeared the only possible decision.

“If Bordeaux does not win its European Challenge Cup quarter-final, the Top 14 match will take place on the weekend of September 26-27 during which the semi-finals of the European Cups take place. If Bordeaux qualifies for these semi-finals, the match will take place on another date to be fixed later.

“In addition, the bureau decided to refer the matter by the president of the LNR to the disciplinary and regulations committee in order to determine the responsibility of Stade Francais in this situation under its management of the off-season so that the commission draws the consequences it deems appropriate.”

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