The two continental competitions, the European Cup and the European Challenge, are already on their toes: the Top 14 teams will not participate in the 3rd and 4th days of the group stage, scheduled for the week -end from January 15th and 22nd.
The National Rugby League (LNR) will indeed comply with the wishes of the Ministry of Sports who wrote to him on Saturday “to invite him to postpone the next meetings including French clubs, in accordance with the wishes expressed by several French professional rugby clubs. in recent days, ”according to a statement.
In the European Cup, Stade Toulouse had to go to England to face Exeter, defending champions, before hosting the Irish province of Ulster. Same story for Clermont (Munster, Bristol), Lyon (Glasgow Warriors, Gloucester) or Racing 92 (Harlequins, Connacht) …
“We will show adaptation, resignation and resilience to be able to try to continue both the championship in the best conditions and then I hope to resume the European Cup at another period”, assured the president Toulouse to AFP.
“There are four weekends left, there is plenty to recompose this competition and bring it to an end,” he added as the organizers are studying different scenarios to complete a competition suspended after a 2020 edition. truncated.
This week, various meetings between the EPCR, organizer of continental competitions, and the various championships involved had made it possible to strengthen the health protocol, considered too light by the Top 14 clubs.
The Threatened Tournament
The organizers had assured to want to follow the protocol applied in France, where the teams are tested three days before the matches, instead of six in the two European cups.
However, these advances are insufficient for the French government in view of the health situation in the United Kingdom with the progression of the British variant on a European scale. A situation deemed “worrying” by the French state.
This new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has increased transmissibility compared to strains currently circulating in France, thus significantly increasing the risk of contamination.
Any travel or stay in the United Kingdom is already strongly discouraged.
Following Challenge Cup meetings that took place on British territory at the end of December, several people with the aforementioned variant were identified within the Aviron bayonnais and the Pau Section, specifies the Ministry of Sports.
The clusters that have appeared in these clubs can generate significant chains of transmission, adds the supervisory body.
The Tournament, which is due to start on February 6, is also in the balance. “A specific meeting on the Six Nations Tournament will be held at the initiative of the Ministry of Sports at the start of the week,” the Ministry of Sports also confided.
Rugby is not the only sport concerned since the Ministry of Sports explained that it had initiated a census of all the sporting events scheduled in France in the coming weeks including participants from the United Kingdom as well as the travel forecasts of French sports delegations on British soil.
“From Monday, the ministry will meet with the sports federations and event organizers concerned,” added the ministry.
Almost a year later, French sport has not yet emerged from the bell under which the pandemic has placed it.