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Training set to be suspended for Leinster, Ulster, Connacht, and Munster

The provinces have no certainty around when they will next play.

Updated Mar 13th 2020, 4:24 PM

COLLECTIVE TRAINING FOR the four professional Irish provinces is set to be suspended for next week at least.

While Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster had initially planned to continue training as normal next week and beyond, it’s understood the situation is being reviewed and collective training in large groups is now set to be suspended for the short-term.

It remains to be seen when the provinces will return to collective training but they and the IRFU are keen to play their part in limiting the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

a-view-of-training Munster training in UL [file photo]. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The Guinness Pro14 was yesterday suspended indefinitely, meaning that Munster and Connacht have no certainty around when their next games will take place.

Leinster and Ulster have Champions Cup quarter-finals scheduled for the weekend of 4/5 April but those fixtures are under real threat of also being postponed.

All amateur domestic rugby [including training] in Ireland has been suspended following an IRFU directive in that regard.

The provinces’ strength and conditioning coaches will have a demanding challenge next week and possibly beyond in ensuring players remain fit.

Cases of Covid-19 in the Premier League underline that professional athletes and coaches are not immune to the virus and the provinces are obviously hoping to avoid any similar situations.

Leinster had been planning for their Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 4 April.

Ulster are due to face Toulouse in France in their quarter-final the following day, but both fixtures are in major doubt.

Last night, tournament organiser EPCR made a statement saying it “notes the suspension of the Guinness Pro14 season and continues to liaise with the relevant league and union bodies regarding next month’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final matches while closely monitoring developments in relation to COVID-19.

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“An update regarding the matches will be communicated as soon as practicable, and in the meantime, EPCR remains fully supportive of the preventative measures which have been introduced to date in the interest of overall public health and will respect further directives by governments and local authorities.”

As such, the four Irish provinces are now waiting to hear official updates from the Pro14 and EPCR.

Irish domestic rugby is in a similar situation, with all games and training suspended.

The All-Ireland League clubs and any schools involved in cup finals must wait until 29 March for a concrete update, with the IRFU set to review the suspension of the domestic season at that point.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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