The Betfred Super League fixture between Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos at Stade Gilbert Brutus is set to take place behind closed doors due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
In light of yesterday’s decision by the French Government banning public gatherings of more 1,000, a meeting was convened this morning by the RFL which involved Super League Europe, Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos to discuss the impact on this weekend’s scheduled fixture.
Following these discussions, the RFL Board have determined that the match should be played as scheduled this weekend.
Factors considered were:
- that the match can be played;
- the absence of free weekends later in the season;
- that Catalans already have two fixtures to be rescheduled;
- the various logistical and player welfare issues surrounding midweek fixtures;
- the unreasonable financial impact that would have been caused to Leeds if the fixtures were switched; and
- the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Super League competition.
The clubs will comply with the restrictions placed upon them by the French government and other arrangements will be resolved between the two clubs.
The RFL stresses that this was a difficult decision enforced by the current circumstances, and acknowledges and has sympathy with the impact it will have on the Catalans club.
The RFL will consult with Catalans regarding their other home fixture scheduled for the period covered by the decree, against Toronto Wolfpack on Saturday April 11.
Catalans Chairman, Bernard Guasch, commented:’ Following the unprecedented decision of the French Minister of Sports, the Dragons’ choice was to switch the fixtures. Unfortunately, the Leeds Rhinos club did not accept our request.
We then proposed to postpone the match and to play it later in the season, midweek or weekend depending on the Cup results of each club.
‘We even offered a financial compensation to Leeds club for additional travelling costs.
‘Remember that we were in the same situation a month ago in Wakefield without solution or possible compensation for the cancelled game due to bad weather. To date, we are still waiting for Wakefield and the RFL to reschedule this match.
‘Unfortunately the RFL, the Leeds Rhinos, and the RFL Board did not hear our reasons, even after appealing the decision and told us to play the game as scheduled.
He went on to add: ‘We strongly regret this decision which will hugely impact the finances of the club with revenues already anticipated in our annual budget. ‘
‘Unable to find a solution to choose 1,000 supporters from our 5,500 season ticket holders and sponsors, the club has chosen to play behind closed doors.’
In a statement on Leeds Rhinos website, the club welcomed the decision by the RFL Board that the game against the Dragons should go ahead.
As a club, they ‘fully accept that this is an incredibly difficult, unprecedented situation and our sympathies are with Catalans Dragons, who have been impacted by the current ban of large crowds gathering in France.