The PRO14 has announced its season has been suspended indefinitely, with a full six rounds remaining to be played.
League organisers have taken the decision in line with a number of other sports around the world, such as the NBA, Formula 1, and the Spanish and Italian top football divisions, responding to the spread of coronavirus.
A PRO14 statement has confirmed: “The current Guinness PRO14 season has been suspended in response to the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
“The PRO14 is an international league. Cross border travel is inevitable and that brings with it unique challenges. With governments in Italy and Ireland already putting in place clear directives and restrictions around public activities and travel, the decision to suspend the competition is appropriate. It is in the best interests of everyone that games are not played at this time. The suspension has been directed by the board of Celtic Rugby DAC and will be remain under constant review.
David Jordan, tournament director PRO14 Rugby, said: “We have made this decision with everyone’s welfare foremost in our minds. With an evolving situation in the five countries that take part in Guinness PRO14 it is important to make a clear decision that is in keeping with the advice of the various governments involved.
“Resumption of the 2019/20 season will now become a matter of constant review. To this point PRO14 Rugby has ensured that it has the latest information and guidance made available by the local and national authorities via our participating unions in the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa.
“This will remain the case for the duration of the suspension. This is an unprecedented action for the tournament and as such no end date to the suspension can be provided at this time.
“In keeping with our practice during the outbreak, PRO14 Rugby will provide updates on the suspension when more information is available.”
The decision to suspend the season leaves the June 20 date of the league’s final at the Cardiff City Stadium open to possibly being rescheduled.
International rugby has already been impacted with the Six Nations postponing Ireland’s final two matches of the tournament to a later date, withthe same applying to England’s match against Italy in Rome.
Declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on Wednesday, coronavirus has truly become a worldwide issue with the Rugby World Cup 2021 repechage match between Kenya and Colombia also postponed.
Premiership Rugby are yet to indicate whether they will follow the PRO14 in suspending the English domestic season.
The same can be said for the RFU with the Championship and National Leagues.
While the chief of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has insisted the Games is on schedule to go ahead.
Yoshiro Mori, chairman of the Tokyo organising committee, said: “It is our basic stance that we press ahead with preparation for a safe and secure Olympics … we are not at all thinking about changing courses or plans.”
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