The current Guinness PRO14 season has been suspended because of the developing COVID-19 flare-up, organisers declared on Thursday.
“The PRO14 is an international league. Cross border travel is unavoidable, and that brings with it unique challenges. With governments in Italy and Ireland previously setting up explicit orders and limitations around public activities and travel, the decision to suspend the competition is proper,” said the statement following Celtic Rugby DAC board meeting.
“It is to the greatest advantage of everybody that competitors will not play games as of now. The leading group of Celtic Rugby DAC is coordinating the suspension, and will remain under consistent review.”
David Jordan, Tournament Director PRO14 Rugby, stated: 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’s important to make an obvious decision in keeping with the advice of the various governments involved.”
Resumption of the 2019/20 season will remain a matter of consistent review.
“This is an unprecedented action for the tournament and we can’t at this stage provide the end date for the suspension.” the statement said.
South Africa has two competitors in the tournament–the Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings–who will stop serious activity until the board hold the meeting to lift the suspension.
Meanwhile, World Rugby has announced the postponement of the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series tournament in response to the spreading Covid-19 pandemic.
The South African Women’s Sevens team were to compete with teams from Argentina, Belgium, China, Colombia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Poland and Scotland in Stellenbosch on March 28 and 29. .
“The health and safety of taking part teams, tournament event staff and spectators is our highest priority,” World Rugby said in a statement.
“We have taken this proactive decision to help protect the global rugby and the wider public based on the World Health Organisation and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines.
“Stakeholders are supporting the decision, including unions and commercial partners.“We will communicate further details to rearrange the Stellenbosch women’s HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series event in due course,” the statement said.