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- Pro 14 rugby fixtures could be set to return in August 2020. Leinster v Munster & Connacht v Ulster might be the first matches.
BBC report that plans are currently been discussed to resume a curtailed Pro 14 championship on August 22nd.
Talks have been ongoing between the Pro 14 and clubs. It is likely that if the games were to be played they would be played behind closed doors. This would mean no spectators present in the stands. A full return of the Pro 14 competition would be difficult as it covers five countries, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy and South Africa. Therefore, it wouldn’t be feasible in the current climate to just begin games.
BBC report that a virtual meeting was held on Thursday. Proposals were put in place to play two rounds of conference with sides playing teams from their own country from August 22nd. This would mean for example fixtures between Leinster, Connacht, Munster and Ulster. However, when you look at Wales, Scotland and South Africa, it would potentially mean teams would have to play each other on consecutive weekends.
Scottish rugby chief operating officer Dominic McKay, who is also a board member of the PRO 14 said that any resumption to the competition will be dependent on government approval. He said, “We are still looking at scenarios that might see some way of potentially finishing the PRO 14 season”.
Wales Online have released the potential fixtures which have been pencilled in for August 22nd, which shows in terms of Ireland provincial games, Leinster playing Munster and Connacht versus Ulster. August 29th will see Leinster travel to Ulster and Connacht travelling to Munster. Heineken Champions Cup games are also scheduled to resume with these beginning on September 12th. The semi-finals are to take place on September 26th. Whether these are likely to be given the go ahead remains questionable. This is my opinion because teams will have to travel to different countries.
A fixture list has also been drawn up which Wales Online report is likely to see the season finish in August/September. They report that the Pro 14 play-off semi-finals are pencilled in for the 5th of September. The final scheduled to take place around the 17-19th of September. Obviously, these are only drafts as if the games were to go ahead they will have to get the green light from government officials.
At present rugby is seen as non essential. This is just like every other sport as we still are in midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, rugby falls under stage 5 in terms of the governments 5 stage plan here in Ireland. This would mean rugby can commence from August 10th. However, as previously stated if it was to return the number of spectators will be limited or non existent. Previously, discussions took place on whether to call the season and give Leinster the trophy. This was because they had the most points of all the sides in conference A and B. European place were also going to be awarded on the basis of the teams position in the table. However, this is obviously not going to happen now owing to the new proposals which have been drawn by the PRO 14 hierarchy.
Personally, I can see the games returning. However, they will obviously have to be behind closed doors. The only concerning aspect is probably when we reach the semi-finals stages where are the games going to be played for example? Would it be okay for example for Edinburgh or Glasgow to travel over to the RDS? These are all the questions that have to be answered.
But we can now disclose fixtures featuring Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and the Scarlets, as well as those involving the Irish and Scottish teams, could all be switched to the Republic and probably be played behind closed doors.
The fixture list
Leinster v Munster
Ospreys v Dragons
Connacht v Ulster
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors
Zebre v Treviso
Southern Kings v Cheetahs
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues
Ulster v Leinster
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys
Dragons v Scarlets
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh
Benetton v Zebre
Cheetahs v Southern Kings
Munster v Connacht
Winner Conference A v Runner-up Conference B
Winner Conference B v Runner-up Conference A