French Top 14 season to be abandoned

The decision casts further doubt on the European rugby season.
French Top 14 season to be abandoned

Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle had been on course for a play-off spot before the season was interrupted. Picture: Romain Biard/Icon Sport via Getty Images
Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle had been on course for a play-off spot before the season was interrupted. Picture: Romain Biard/Icon Sport via Getty Images

The French Top 14 season will be abandoned after a deal was reached between clubs and league organisers LNR.

On Tuesday, French prime minister Edouard Philippe announced no sporting events, including those behind closed doors, would be permitted before September due to the Covid-19 pandemic, scuppering hopes of a conclusion to the 2019-20 campaign.

The country's top football leagues have already been cancelled, with rugby now following suit after talks with club presidents.

Bordeaux-Bègles had been leading the way in the race for the play-offs with 17 games played in the 26-round regular season, however, it was decided to prioritise the start of the 2020-21 campaign in September.

An LNR statement read: “After consultation with the presidents of Top 14 and PRO D2 clubs, the Board will propose to the LNR Management Committee not to follow up on having playoffs at the end of August to close the 2019-2020 season, to pronounce the end of this 2019-2020 season and to focus on the organisation of the launch of the 2020-2021 editions of the two championships starting in September 2020.”

Their management committee will meet to ratify the decision, with no indication whether a champion will be declared.

The decision casts further doubt on the European rugby season despite organisers, following the French prime minister's announcement, stating they remained committed to concluding the campaign, which has reached the quarter-final stage.

Four-time European champions Toulouse are due to host Ulster in the Champions Cup, while there is an all-French tie between Clermont Auvergne and Racing 92 also scheduled. Toulon, Castres Olympique, and Bordeaux-Bègles are still in the Challenge Cup last eight.

The finals of both competitions had been due to take place in Marseille, with EPCR deciding last month to cancel their proposed finals weekend set for May 22-23.

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