English rugby union suspended in response to virus


"The Rugby Football Union will suspend all rugby activity in England, at both professional and community level, including club training, league and cup matches plus rugby education courses from 17 March until 14 April subject to continued review," said an RFU statement.

"The decision has been taken following (British) government advice in the interests of players, coaches, referees, volunteers, supporters and the wider rugby union community. 

"The RFU will continue to review and monitor government advice and will provide detailed updates on the impact to the season in the coming weeks."   

Meanwhile the top-tier English Premiership rugby union season is to be postponed for five weeks.

The suspension covers four scheduled rounds of matches, with the weekend of April 24-26 a possible date for the resumption.

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, scheduled for 3, 4 and 5 April, have also been postponed.

The Pro14 and France's Top 14 leagues were suspended indefinitely last week, with four international Six Nations Championship matches postponed because of the spread of COVID-19.

There are nine rounds of Premiership matches remaining before the scheduled semi-finals and final in June.

Exeter lead the table by five points after 13 rounds of fixtures.

"We are sorry to tell our fans that we will be postponing our season for five weeks, in line with today's (Monday's) advice of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which confirmed that the (British) Government would no longer support mass gatherings," said a Premiership Rugby statement.