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Pro14 facing cancelled games as Italy gets set to suspend all sport

Munster could lose out on crucial match points as a result.

THE PRO14 IS facing the possibility of cancelling games as Italy ramps up its measures to deal with the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Pro14 club Zebre have cancelled training and asked the majority of their staff to work remotely as Italy gets set to enact a government decree that all sports at all levels in the country are suspended until 3 April.

a-general-view-of-a-guinness-pro14-logo There may be further disruption to the Pro14. Source: Alex James/INPHO

That measure was agreed upon at a meeting of sporting bodies with the Italian National Olympic Committee today, and their recommendation that all sport be suspended is due to be put before the Italian government.

The recommendation does not cover international games for Italian clubs or national teams, but Zebre and Benetton’s upcoming away Pro14 fixtures could still be cancelled. 

Sections of the north of Italy are under quarantine due to the coronavirus crisis and, given that Zebre and Benetton are both from the north of the country, their involvement in the Pro14 over the coming weeks is in severe doubt.

Benetton have already had two home games against Ulster and Munster postponed, although the Pro14 had expressed its hope of rescheduling those fixtures, as well Zebre’s home game against Connacht – which has also been postponed.

However, any more build-up of games would potentially ensure the Pro14 would have to resort to recording the cancelled fixtures as 0-0 draws. 

Zebre are due to visit Cardiff Blues on 21 March and Benetton are scheduled to take on Munster in Cork on 27 March, but those games are now in real doubt.

The Pro14 is due to issue an update on the situation tomorrow but cancelled games would naturally be a blow to both Cardiff Blues and Munster, who would have been favourites to secure wins in their home games against Italian opposition.

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Any possible lost match points could be costly for Munster as they chase Conference B leaders Edinburgh for top spot and a home semi-final.

a-general-view-of-the-guinness-pro14-logo-on-a-munster-jersey Munster could lose out on crucial match points. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

For now, there is no official confirmation of any further postponed games or cancelled fixtures, but a Pro14 statement tomorrow will make the situation clearer.

For their part, Zebre have cancelled training and asked staff to work remotely. 

“Zebre Rugby Club has decided to suspend all types of competitive activities at the Cittadella del Rugby in Parma,” reads a club statement.

“The decision was made by the company to pursue the principle of responsibility in preserving more than 100 members and their families from the possible infection of the coronavirus.

“The collective resumption of Zebre training was scheduled for today but, after the meeting between the sole director Andrea Dalledonne, the team manager Andrea De Rossi and the medical director of the club Rocco Ferrari, the company took this decision as an additional measure to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Italy.

“Injured athletes will continue their rehabilitation process under the supervision of the club’s medical and physiotherapy staff, scrupulously following the hygiene rules necessary to contain the risk of spreading the virus.

“Consequently, the company’s activities will not be carried out at the club’s headquarters, but will be guaranteed by employees and by the offices of the franchise thanks to the use of IT systems that allow the various activities to be carried out remotely via smart working.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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