By David Williams
The French Top 14 season has been officially abandoned in a move that is likely to cast more uncertainty over any return of the Guinness Pro 14.
With the rugby shutdown in France continuing, the game’s rulers announced on Tuesday that they are ending the season as of now.
Organisers, the French rugby league (LNR) said no club would be relegated and no team would be promoted from the Pro D2 (second division).
The decision had been widely expected since the LNR and the club presidents reached an agreement on April 30 to call off the campaign.
The LNR said in a statement that the board of directors had adopted a resolution calling for the abandonment of the Top 14 and Pro D2 championships.
It added that the European qualifying spots would be attributed “once the ECPR (European Professional Club Rugby) will have confirmed the format of competition applicable in 2020-21”.
With EPRC keen to ensure that next season’s two European club tournaments can start as planned, the French decision is likely to put more pressure on the Pro14 to give up on their plans for a resumption of the campaign in August.
In England, Gallagher Premiership clubs were today given the green light to resume non-contract training and there is significant hope that their own domestic season can be resumed.
The situation in the Pro 14 for the four Welsh regions is far more complicated with teams from five different countries involved, including travel to both South Africa and Italy.
The French standings that will be taken into account are those of the day of the 17th round of the matches, with Union Bordeaux Begles on top with 61 points ahead of Lyon (53), Racing 92 (46) and RC Toulon (45).
Top 14 season abandoned, no champion named: French Rugby League https://t.co/LcSWonw1jD
— TOI Sports News (@TOISportsNews) June 2, 2020
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in April that the 2019-20 season of sport would not be able to resume, although they left room for games to be played without spectators.
Finishing the season with no spectators was never an option for the LNR as most of its clubs’ income is from ticket sales and hospitality services at the stadiums.