The French Rugby League Federation have made the decision to end the 2019/2020 season entirely and play no fixtures either behind closed doors or name a title winner.
After the COVID-19 crisis, the French Elite 1 and Elite 2 Championships were suspended on March 13th 2020, while clubs were given a survey to determine how the season would end.
Following this process, over half of the partaking clubs voted in favour of cancelling the season and playing no further Rugby League in the current campaign.
The Federation had seriously considered the prospect of playing all games behind closed doors but, in a recent statement, they concluded that there would be no “financial interest” for clubs and “worsen an already difficult economic situation” for the competition itself.
Those key considerations were the determining factors in France suspending all Rugby League activity in the 2019/2020 season, with no club awarded the title.
The Federation added that they would actively reimburse part of the costs to clubs, in proportion to their involvement in the current season, with 30% of their costs for the season to be refunded.
This development comes after French President Emmanuel Macron extended the lockdown in the country until May 11th. The full statement from the Federation read:
In recent weeks, the Federation has sent various letters which followed the health recommendations of government bodies.
Following the first speech by the President of the Republic, the federal authority by letter of March 13, suspended all rallies and competitions in our sport.
During his second intervention, President Emmanuel Macron raised the recommendations for confinement except in special cases.
During his intervention on Monday April 13, he extended the confinement until Monday May 11.
He also specified that the deconfinement will be done in stages in order to avoid a further spread of COVID-19.
Even if he never spoke of the economics of sport, we can imagine that we will be associated with the categories of shows and events for which the President has indicated a deconfinement well beyond May 11.
The Federation has taken care to ask all of its clubs to gather their opinions on the rest of the season. It emerges from this survey that half of the clubs (for those who replied) voted in favor of canceling the various competitions (Cups and championships.)
By virtue of these elements, the Federation should decide on the follow-up to be given to the 2019/2020 season, interrupted since Friday, March 13, 2020.
First, this decision must be made with a focus on the medical aspect. The two doctors who are part of the Management Committee of the French Rugby Union Federation, Xavier Fabre and Christian Valéro have a clear position: it is “preferable to end the sports season for the sake of player protection and citizenship”.
Knowing the risks of our sport, it is “everyone’s responsibility not to overload the already badly damaged care system”
Furthermore, the deconfinement will be done gradually and we can imagine that the final phases would be done behind closed doors. This hypothesis represents no financial interest and would worsen an already particularly difficult economic situation for our clubs.
For all of these reasons, and especially with a view to preserving the health of all, the Executive Board has decided to end the 2019/2020 sports season.
This season will be considered “white”, that is to say that no title of champion will be awarded.
Concerning the economic consequences following the COVID-19 epidemic, the federation has decided to reimburse part of the costs in proportion to your commitments at the start of the season.
Considering that the sports season is spread over 10 months, the Federation informs that 3 months of engagement will be retroceded or 30% of the initial engagement.