Altered restrictions in France

·2-min read

Clubs in France are bracing for yet more and altered restrictions after the League National de Rugby and France’s parliament considered some new suggestions this week.

But some clubs believe the changes favour only the bigger clubs and are preparing resistance.

Players from all teams in both the top two divisions are now to take PCR tests twice weekly, whether vaccinated or not, once on Monday and once 48 hours before a match.

Players testing positive will be isolated, but as long as a club is able to field a matchday 23 including six front-rows and at least 15 professional players, the matches must go ahead.

Unbalance the championship

“This return to bi-weekly tests will unbalance the championship,” complained one club President anonymously to Midi-Olympique.

“This measure will benefit the big clubs with 50 pro players available, when we will sometimes be forced to send our Juniors onto the pitch.”

The other change, still to be ratified by France’s parliament, threatens to be more controversial still. Clubs have said that a blanket limit of 5,000 spectators is unfair, and have proposed that stadia be allowed to be filled up to a certain proportion of overall capacity.

While it makes sense, it will undoubtedly be a boost for, for example, UBB, who play in the 35,000-capacity Chaban-Delmas, while Castres, who play in the 12,500 Stade Pierre-Fabre, may suffer as a result. The differences in the Pro D2 are starker still.

There has been little opinion offered by club Presidents up to now on the proposed change as there has been no word on what proportion of the ground could be filled, but the likelihood of an uneven playing field, so to speak, is huge.

Meanwhile, Racing 92, who are limited to 2,000 fans as their ground is covered, have said they may opt to save costs by closing the gates completely if the motions go through.

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