French rugby agrees to cancel season

Paris (AFP) –


French rugby authorities and club presidents reached agreement Thursday to cancel the 2019-2020 season and concentrate on ensuring the 2020-2021 campaign starts in September.

The season was halted in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to end the season was made with the LNR and the presidents of the clubs in the top-flight Top 14 and second tier Pro D2 divisions.

It still needs to be rubberstamped by the league's steering committee at a date still to be arranged.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced this week that professional sport could not take place until September in France, where over 25,000 people have died from coronavirus.

The league said that after discussions with the presidents of Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs it had abandoned plans to hold a final phase of matches at the end of August.

"We propose to declare that this 2019-2020 season is at an end and focus on organising the launch of the 2020-2021 editions of the two championships from September 2020," the LNR added in a statement.

It now looks likely the season will end without a champion being declared and without relegation or promotion.

Bordeaux-Begles were eight points clear in the Top 14 standings with nine games left to play. Well-financed Paris-based club Stade Francais were bottom.

The league hopes to start their new season on September 5.

Clubs must present plans to the sports ministry about what health precautions they will take for players.