Club rugby suspended until end of month as fears grow for Six Nations

Six Nations chiefs are desperately clinging to the belief that rugby’s showpiece can go ahead as planned.

Organisers last night refused to give up on the tournament despite Covid concerns forcing the sport to shut down until just a week before England are due to launch the defence of their crown.

European cup competition was suspended on the orders of the French Government, who decreed that cross-border involvement at the current time “constitutes too great a public health risk”.

Rather than take the opportunity to use the vacated fortnight to bring forward league matches, Premiership bosses decided instead to impose a mid-season break.

PRL chief executive Darren Childs snubbed calls from England’s leading club coaches to play on, arguing: ”The welfare of everyone involved in Premiership Rugby is crucial to us.

“This break in the season gives us the chance to hand some much-needed rest to our hard-working players, management, staff and match officials.”

That is specifically what coaching trio Lee Blackett, Pat Lam and Rob Baxter did not want – arguing passionately for clubs to take the opportunity to play league games with full strength sides before the Six Nations relieves them of their best players.

“As a supporter, surely you want to see Premiership sides putting international players out?” Wasps boss Blackett had said. “I think it’s in the game’s best interest.”

Bristol director of rugby Lam added: “This is a massive opportunity for the Premiership as a competition to bring everything forward instead of doing nothing.”

That chance has now gone but fears the Six Nations will go the same way continue to be resisted by the game's decision makers, who have seemingly convinced themselves that their tournament is a special case.

While Macron’s government was directing French clubs to postpone their participation in European tournaments “for the month of January”, France team bosses were unveiling their squad for the championship.

England star Kyle Sinckler faces a ban after being charged for “failing to respect the authority” of referee Karl Dickson whilst playing for Bristol last Saturday.

Sinckler, who has already apologised on social media, was heard to scream “Are you f***ing serious?” after Dickson ruled that a diving tackle on him did not merit a yellow card.

If found guilty the prop faces a minimum ban of two weeks.

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