France’s Rugby League blackout

All Rugby League matches in France have been called off until further notice as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Following the government’s announcement last Thursday that no events attracting more than 1,000 people were allowed to go ahead, or else must be played behind closed doors, the French Rugby League Federation on Friday imposed a blanket ban on all matches and training sessions at all levels of the game.
In Lézignan, where schools had already been closed for at least a fortnight following the positive testing of a primary schoolteacher, the club had already decided that the scheduled match with Toulouse, at first planned to take place behind closed doors, should not go ahead.
With the top two levels of professional rugby union, professional football and other sports also cancelling fixtures, the Rugby League Federation decided on Friday to call off all activities under its control. Since then the French government has imposed further restrictions, including the closing of cafés, bars, restaurants and cinemas.
The past weekend should have seen the thirteenth round of the Elite 1 championship, which comprises nineteen rounds, followed by two weekends of play-offs before the Championship final on the weekend of 13th-14th June.
In addition, the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Cup are yet to be played, with the final due to take place on the weekend of 23rd-24th May. No date for the resumption of fixtures has been suggested.

By Mike Rylance