French league blows full time on rugby season
French rugby on Tuesday confirmed that it had abandoned hope of completing its coronavirus-interrupted club season and announced that it was ending the Top 14 and division two campaigns without a champion.
The National Rugby League (LNR) held discussions with the 30 clubs in the two divisions on April 30, the day the country's football season was called off, and said at the time they had agreed to drop plans to hold play-offs at the end of August.
A press release from the LNG's executive committee on Tuesday rubber-stamped that decision and filled in some details.
"The Top 14 table is stopped and ratified at the end of the 17th round, the Pro D2 table is stopped and ratified at the end of the 23rd round," the LNR said in a statement, noting that not all the matches in the final second-division round had been played.
The decision means that, unlike French football, rugby ends its season without a club champion, for the first time since 1942. There will be no promotion to, or relegation from, either of the top two divisions.
The Top 14 will therefore resume on the opening day of the 2020-2021 season, scheduled for September 4.
The decision still needs to be ratified by an extraordinary meeting of the LNR General Assembly on June 11.
The LNR also said it hopes for an increase in the number of French clubs in the European Cup from six to eight to take into account "the exceptional context of the health crisis".
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), which runs the European Cup and the lesser Challenge Cup, said in mid-May that it was studying the possibility of expanding the marquee competition to 24 clubs, with eight from France.
The LNR committee also said it was extending the signing window, which normally shuts during the season, for players who will be out of contract at the end of the season They will be able to join a club until January 31 next year.
© 2020 AFP