Coronavirus updates: How rugby has been affected around the world

International
by RUGBY.com.au staff

Coronavirus has disrupted rugby events around the world, with new competitions seemingly being affected by the day.

Here are the latest updates on cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19.

JAPAN TOP LEAGUE

Matt Giteau is one of a number of foreign players heading home from Japan. Photo: Getty ImagesThe remainder of the Japanese Top League has been cancelled.

Japan's top flight rugby competition had already been halted for three weeks because of drug-related issues but this latest decision is because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With nations all around the world closing their borders, many Top League players have already been allowed to return to their native countries so they can reunite with their families.

OLYMPICS

Chef de mission Ian Chesterman speaks to media. Photo: Getty ImagesThe AOC has advised athletes to prepare for a 2021 Olympic Games as chef de mission Ian Chesterman declared, "Clearly the Games can't be held in July".

Earlier in the pandemic, AOC CEO Matt Carroll and chef de mission Ian Chesterman said the decision was up to the IOC ultimately.

Chesterman said athletes overwhelmingly still wanted to go to the Games and they would continue to plan as though they would go ahead.

Australian women's Sevens coach John Manenti said he found it hard to see Tokyo 2020 being staged as planned but they would continue to train to schedule.

SEVENS WORLD SERIES

The Sevens World Series has effectively been paused. Photo: Getty ImagesThe remainder of the Sevens World Series events have been postponed until later in the year.

The Sevens was the first event to be impacted with the postponement of the Hong Kong Sevens and Singapore Sevens.

Those events have been pushed back to October, leaving teams with a major hole to fill in the 2020 calendar, just months out from the Olympics.

World Rugby then took the step to postpone the upcoming Langford, London and Paris tournaments, effectively ending the World Series season for now.

SUPER RUGBY

Plans for domestic rugby competitions to replace Super Rugby have been put on hold after hopes that Australia and New Zealand could keep some rugby going.

No matches will be played until at least May 1, after new tighter coronavirus-related restrictions were introduced by their respective governments.

All Super Rugby games have been suspended for the "foreseeable future" after strict self-isolation requirements introduced by Australia and New Zealand.

Both the Australian and New Zealand governments are banning the entry of non-residents and citizens into their countries. 

Any Super Rugby or replacement competition that could be played would be behind closed doors.

News that Qantas has slashed its number of domestic flights due to the coronavirus outbreak could also affect the chances of staging even an Australia-only competition.

The remainder of the Super W season has been postponed, with the hope it can be played in late May.

GLOBAL RAPID RUGBY

Global Rapid Rugby Suspended.

Worldwide travel and public health restrictions have led to the immediate suspension of the 2020 Rapid Rugby season.

Read the statement from Rapid Rugby CEO Mark Evans.https://t.co/OAdZ9bwkN3

 

 

Global Rapid Rugby has been suspended indefinitely after the opening round was played on Saturday night.

GRR CEO Mark Evans said the decision was a necessary one when considering the global travel involved in the competition.

“Travel, quarantine and public health restrictions have provided us with no option but to halt the inaugural Global Rapid Rugby season for the imminent future," he said in a statement.

“The sporting environment has been turned upside down by the current worldwide health crisis.

“It’s enormously disappointing to have to suspend the competition just one round into the season, however the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and fans are always our number one priority.

“We will explore all avenues as we seek to evolve the competition to meet the difficult circumstances we all now find ourselves in.

"One thing that has not changed is our commitment to the development of rugby in the Asia-Pacific region and we look forward to getting back on the park and building on what Global Rapid Rugby has achieved so far." 

FIJI 

The FRU has halted all rugby competitions and events across the country due to the coronavirus crisis.

Fiji Rugby CEO John O'Connor said in a statement, all rugby-related events were on hold.

“After consultation with our sponsors, the upcoming domestic competitions such as the Skipper Cup, Vodafone Vanua Championship and of course the Fijian Latui’s Global Rapid Rugby season are all suspended. As time and the situation evolves we will re-assess these competitions and will inform Affiliate Unions of the new competition kick off dates.

We will also continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with Government measures and make decisions around the future competitions such as Kaji and the Dean’s Competition together with our Flying Fijian’s commitments in June and July”.

O'Conor said special arrangements were being made for the men's and women's Sevens teams, including training in smaller groups and ensuring appropriate hygiene standards.

“We have arranged with our High Performance Coaches including the Men and Women’s 7s Team to manage their athletes and training environments in compliance to the regulations announced yesterday coordinating their programmes around reduced groups sizes and more importantly practising safe and appropriate hygiene at all times”.

MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY

Major League Rugby has officially cancelled the remainder of its season, becoming the first professional league to do so.

The decision comes from the advice of the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, which is heavily recommending limiting large gatherings of people.

PRO14

The PRO14 season's suspension has been extended and its scheduled Cardiff City final cancelled as the virus continues to spread.

PRO14 organisers had planned to hold the final in Cardiff in June but announced that the scheduled game would be cancelled and the title decider would be held at the highest-ranked team's venue.

All domestic rugby in Ireland has also been cancelled for the rest of the season.

SIX NATIONS

The final two rounds of the Six Natoins have been majorly disrupted by the coronavirus. Photo: Getty ImagesAll of the final round of Six Nations matches have been postponed because of the spread of the coronavirus.

Wales vs Scotland was postponed overnight just hours after the Welsh Rugby Union had declared it was set to go ahead.

All of the women's Six Nations have been cancelled.

Postponed Matches

Ireland vs France

Ireland vs Italy

Italy vs England

Wales vs Scotland

PREMIERSHIP RUGBY

The RFU have suspended all professional and community rugby until April 14, the English governing body announced on Tuesday morning (AEDT).

England's Premiership Rugby competition has also been suspended for five weeks, after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government would no longer endorse mass gatherings.

in a statement released early Tuesday, the RFU said all training, games and education courses would be halted until that date.

"Following government advice today, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) will suspend all rugby activity in England, at both professional and community level, including club training, league and cup matches plus rugby education courses from 17 March until 14 April subject to continued review.

The decision has been taken following government advice in the interests of players, coaches, referees, volunteers, supporters and the wider rugby union community.  

Where possible, players at all levels are encouraged to maintain their own personal fitness and keep active during this time, while following government guidelines about safe distance and safe exercise environments.

The RFU will continue to review and monitor government advice and will provide detailed updates on the impact to the season in the coming weeks."

Last weekend's Premiership Cup final had already been cancelled, after a Harlequins staff member tested positive to COVID-19.

CHAMPIONS CUP

The Champions Cup quarter-finals scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5 have been postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning (AEDT), European Rugby confirmed the news.

"The Board of European Professional Club Rugby has decided that this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final matches will not now be played on the scheduled dates of 3/4/5 April," the statement read.

"While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, EPCR, in conjunction with the relevant leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to complete the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments at such a time as that aligns with preventative measures undertaken by an overwhelming majority of sport’s governing bodies and tournament organisers in Europe.

EPCR’s priority is the health and welfare of players and club staff, and an update regarding the knockout stages of the tournaments will be communicated to all stakeholders as soon as practicable.

SCOTLAND

The Scottish Rugby Union has set aside a club hardship fund for community teams affected by coronavirus postponements.

The fund, which will have close to $1 million AUD, has been created in a bit to help the local levels of the game.

"These are unprecedented times and we are acutely aware of the significant day to day financial challenges our member clubs will face in the coming weeks if fixtures cannot be resumed in the mid to long term and other planned fund-raising initiatives are curtailed," Scotland CEO Mark Dobson said.

"We are creating the £500K Club Hardship Fund to provide clubs with the reassurance there is financial assistance available to the dedicated volunteers and staff who deliver our game in their local communities.

"It is important we act now and provide tangible, practical support during these unsettling times

TOP 14

The French Top 14 rugby championship has been suspended until at least April 15 due to coronavirus worries, the National Rugby League (LNR) said on Friday.

The next fixtures in the tournament were set for March 21-22 but the competition organisers have put the season on hold.

Second-tier ProD2 has also been stopped.

"From the moment that the President (Emmanuel Macron) explained that the epidemic was accelerating and that general awareness and strong measures were needed to avoid the spread of this pandemic, it seemed logical to temporarily suspended our two professional competitions," LNR president Paul Goze told AFP.

"There is no resumption date. There is a first date set for April 15 but it doesn't seem very credible to me that all the measures will be lifted by then...

"The objective is to play the semi-finals and final on the scheduled dates."

France's final game of the Six Nations set for Saturday in Paris was postponed last week following the outbreak.

Amateur rugby in France has also been stopped for the time being because of COVID-19.

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