Seven of the 14 best matches postponed, health protocol must be respected As Omicron variant spreads widely, Six-nation championship approaches and with it fear of repeats: What will the rugby calendar look like for the coming months?
European Cups: optimism for the coming days
La seule bonne nouvelle de ces derniers jours est venue de l’EPCR, gestionnaire des coupes d’Europe de rugby, qui a annoncé vendrédi que les matches des 3e et 4e journées, prévus entre le 14 et le 23 janvier seerrou, « As expected.”
The body had previously had to postpone seven matches from Day Two in December (five for the European Cup, two for the European Challenge) due to travel restrictions between the continent and the UK.
Toulouse (among the Wasps), Racing 92 (against the Ospreys) and the French Stade (in Bristol) should be able to cross the Channel from this weekend, in the European Cup, while Toulon should be able to travel to Worcester, as part of the challenge European.
Top 14: Seven reports…including three for Toulon
To the relief “nephew” of the French clubs, ten out of fourteen elites count at least one league match due to the Covid-19 pandemic, complying with the relevant protocol established by the National Rugby League (LNR).
In total, since the start of the season, seven matches have been postponed, including only three for Toulon: four from Day 13 (“Boxing Day”), one from Day 14 and two from Day 15.
Last year was much worse
Nothing compares to last season’s 48 games postponed, Top 14 and Pro D2 combined, but still: where does the very busy schedule looming between the Championship (5 February – 19 March) and the European Cups fit them?
“There is no free weekend in the calendar outside the international period,” said at the end of December, Emmanuel Escalier, General Manager of LNR.
When should you play? ‘There is no perfect solution’
“To play the postponed matches, there are only two solutions: either to play during the weekends for international matches, with a sporting disadvantage for clubs that have a lot of international players, or during the week, an option that also has its share of problems and a sporting impact.” “There is no perfect solution.”
Playing during the week is dangerous for the players’ bodies, the preferred options are as follows: February 12-13, at the same time as France-Ireland on the second day of the tournament; From 12 to 13 March, after Wales and France on Friday evening; March 19-20, on the sidelines of the last day of the tournament with the famous “crisis” between the Blues and England.
Possibly unfair iterations of formations, such as Toulouse, supply many players to the 15th of France who were unable to get all of their live powers on these dates.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the decision to postpone the first 17 matches should be taken on Thursday or Friday. UEFA said that “discussions are (ongoing)” regarding the seven European Cup matches.
The most likely option is to play from April 8-10, the period initially planned for a round of 16 first leg, which will then be removed to play only the eighth in a dry match the following week.