Boost for Super League as French travel restrictions set to be eased

Super League has been handed a boost ahead of the start of the new season with the French government indicating that travel restrictions will be eased with the UK.

There are two French teams competiting in the league for the first time next season following the promotion of Toulouse Olympique, joining Catalans Dragons.

The tightening of travel between the countries due to the Omicron variant of Covid threatened to wreak havoc with the start of the season.

However, a French government spokesperson said today that their list of reasons permissible for travel to and from the UK would be expanded, “in particular professional reasons”, according to The Local France.

This is likely to provide the exemption for professional sport that will allow Catalans and Toulouse to travel to England for away matches, and for English clubs to make trips to France, though full details are yet to be confirmed.

However, there is still another major headache for RFL and Super League bosses to reckon with ahead of their meeting with the two French clubs this week, surrounding unvaccinated players.

France has passed legislation that will prevent any unvaccinated people from playing or watching sport from 15th January, as part of president Emmanuel Macron’s tough stance on those who have not had jabs against Covid.

Neither Catalans nor Toulouse have confirmed how many of their players have not been vaccinated, but any who are not would be prevented from playing.

The rules would also apply to visiting clubs playing at Catalans or Toulouse, meaning that unvaccinated players at English clubs would not be able to feature in away matches in France.

With the RFL confirming that, as of 23rd December, a fifth of players in Super League had not been fully vaccinated, those measures look set to bring more challenges ahead of a season that already looks likely to again be heavily impacted by Covid.