Affected by several positive cases, the Hérault and Rhone clubs have seen their matches postponed in recent weeks. A puzzle for the League which must already face twelve postponed dates.
Press releases from the National Rugby League follow one another, tirelessly. “Match postponed for Covid-19 case”. In the end, since the start of the season, twelve games in just nine days have had to be postponed, with two matches that have been rescheduled twice. This is the case of the meeting between Montpellier and Castres, counting for the 3rd day of Top 14, initially scheduled for October and postponed to Friday, November 20, which was again postponed “because of new positive cases within the ‘workforce’ in Hérault. According to information from RMC Sport, there would be four cases in the workforce and four others in the staff. In the end, four MHR matches were postponed, a sad record in the Top 14.
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Same case for the Clermont-Lyon match which was initially scheduled to take place on Sunday November 15 and which had been rescheduled for Saturday November 21 before being postponed again. Already, at the end of October, the LOU had not been able to receive Montpellier, for the same reason. In the end, this meeting was rescheduled… Wednesday January 6. If all goes well… Affected at the end of August by several positive cases, the Rhone club had succeeded in curbing the epidemic, before it started again.
“The virus is actively circulating” in Montpellier
Montpellier and Castres are the two clubs hardest hit at the moment, failing to stem the cases of contamination. The MHR even confirmed, in a press release, that “the virus is actively circulating within the workforce”. On Tuesday, the Héraultais was even summoned at the request of the League office “as part of the application of the Covid-19 medical management protocol”. A player who had tested positive would have returned to collective training a day too early, breaking the health protocol put in place by the League.
At the start of the season, the Parisian club had been the first club of the elite to be hit by a cluster, forcing the postponement of its first match against Union Bordeaux-Bègles, which had triggered criticism (rather badly come) from Laurent Marti and Christophe Urios, respectively president and manager of UBB. Subsequently, Castres Olympique was also severely affected. The Tarn had even, by decision of the EPCR, lost on the green carpet their semi-final of the Challenge Cup against the English Leicester.
Faced with these cascading postponements in an already completely overloaded schedule, the National Rugby League is faced with a real headache. A first match, Castres-Brive had, under these conditions, to be scheduled in the middle of the week, Wednesday, December 2. Forcing CA Brive to play three matches in a week and, in addition, away! At the announcement of the new postponement of the Montpellier-Castres match, the Corréziens leaders asked the LNR that their trip to the CO pitch could be postponed to this Saturday, during the international window.
Castres refuses to advance his match against Brive
What Simon Gillham explained to our colleagues from RMC Sport : “We are ready to play. There is no problem. With the goal being to catch up on late matches as quickly as possible, there is an opportunity. Castres was to play against Montpellier. They must therefore be able to play against Brive. Our players were not on vacation, the team is training. We will have an answer during the day (Wednesday). ” In the end, the CO refused this possibility. And the National Rugby League did not want to force the OC to play this match so as not to create a precedent while the postponements multiply
How can the League get by? By relaxing its sanitary protocol? This provides for a postponement from three cases over seven rolling days within the same workforce. After nine days of Top 14, only three clubs were able to play all of their matches: Stade Toulousain, Section Paloise and SU Agen. Another solution that had been mentioned at the start of the season: defeat on the green carpet for the team which presents positive cases. At the time, several managers – Christophe Urios (Bordeaux-Bègles), Pierre Mignoni (Lyon), Laurent Travers (Racing 92) – were in favor. Today, they would have had a few lost matches… The LNR preferred the option of postponing matches. Tenable until when?
List of 12 postponed dates:
Day 1: Stade Français-Bordeaux-Bègles
Day 3: Montpellier-Castres (postponed twice), La Rochelle-Racing 92
4th day: Bordeaux-Bègles-Clermont, Castres-Brive
5th day: Racing 92-Toulon
Day 7: Lyon-Montpellier, Bayonne-Toulon
Day 8: Montpellier-Stade Français
Day 9: Clermont-Lyon (postponed twice)
Since the start of the season, 15 Pro D2 matches have been postponed due to the health crisis and seven of these rescheduled matches have been replayed.