Pro14 season resumption planned for late August

Last year’s Pro14 final was between Glasgow Warriors and Leinster at Celtic Park which was won by the Irish province

Plans are being considered to resume a curtailed Pro14 season on 22 August following the coronavirus crisis.

Discussions are being held over the tournament’s future with games probably staged behind closed doors.

A Pro14 return is more testing than other domestic leagues because it covers five countries and international borders in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and South Africa.

A potential final date could be between 17 and 19 September.

A virtual board meeting was held last Wednesday. There are draft proposals to have two rounds of conference fixtures with sides playing teams from their own nation on the final two weekends in August.

In Scotland, Italy and South Africa that could involve the two sides in the Pro14 facing each other on consecutive weekends.

That would represent a condensed end to the conference system with eight rounds of matches currently remaining.

Pro14 organisers had previously said remaining games will be counted as scoreless draws if they cannot be played.

There could be two semi-finals on the first weekend in September with the top two sides in Conference A and Conference B facing each other.

Unbeaten defending champions Leinster are currently top of Conference A ahead of Ulster, with Edinburgh leading Conference B just above Munster. Scarlets and Glasgow are the two third-placed sides.

Those semi-finals could then result in travel for a side which would test any return for the tournament.

A return to rugby is listed under stage five of the Irish government’s roadmap out of lockdown and can happen from 10 August. No such detail has yet been officially published in Scotland and Wales.

The Pro14 calendar is being planned around the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) who are aiming to finish the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions.

There are plans to have the European quarter-finals on the second weekend in September. The semi-finals and finals could then be held on the last weekend of September and first weekend in October.

There are French sides involved in the knockout stages of Europe. France have banned all sporting events, including behind closed doors, until the beginning of September with the 2019-20 Top 14 domestic season being scrapped.

The Pro14 season was initially indefinitely suspended on 12 March with the 20 June final date at the Cardiff City Stadium later cancelled.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips says he expected a decision on whether the Pro14 2019-20 season would be finished in the next month.

Pro14 bosses said in March the resumption of the season will only take place when four strict criteria points have been met:

  • Public health authorities cease to prohibit the resumption of sport and group training
  • Travel restrictions between our territories are lifted
  • No forced isolation or quarantine orders are in force when visiting territories
  • Player welfare is safeguarded, including requirement for a suitable pre-recommencement training period, to be established in conjunction with the high-performance personnel at participating unions and teams.

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