Coronavirus: French Top 14 rugby season abandoned, no champion named

PARIS (REUTERS) – The French Top 14 season has been officially abandoned amid the Covid-19 crisis and no champion will be named, the French rugby league (LNR) said on Tuesday (June 2).

The LNR added that no club would be relegated and no team would be promoted from the Pro D2, the second division in the country.

The decision had been widely expected since the LNR and the club presidents reached an agreement on April 30 to call off the campaign.

Ironically, the announcement came on the day the country marked a symbolic victory in its battle against Covid as its cafes, bars and restaurants opened except in Paris where only outdoor services were available. Beaches and weddings were also back in business, as were museums and theatres.

The country has been one of the most badly hit by the virus, recording the fifth highest total of deaths at 28,940 – after only the United States (105,644), Britain (39,369), Italy (33,530) and Brazil (29,937).

The LNR said in a statement that the board of directors had adopted a resolution calling for the abandonment of the Top 14 and Pro D2 championships.

It added that the European qualifying spots would be attributed “once the ECPR (European Professional Club Rugby) will have confirmed the format of competition applicable in 2020-21”.

The standings that will be taken into account are those of the day of the 17th round of the matches, with Union Bordeaux Begles on top with 61 points, ahead of Lyon (53), Racing 92 (46) and RC Toulon (45).

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in April that the 2019-20 season of sport would not be able to resume, although government efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus left room for games to be played without spectators.

Finishing the season with no spectators was never an option for the LNR as most of its clubs’ income is from ticket sales and hospitality services at the stadiums.

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