Covid disruptions continue to mar Northern Hemisphere rugby

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France's sports ministry has recommended the postponement of European rugby games against British clubs in the Champions and Challenge Cups.

 

The move resulted after several countries closed their borders to Britain and South Africa where fast-spreading variants of Covid-19 have occurred.

 

With the Six Nations tournament due to start on February 6, there are concerns that it may also be affected.

 

A meeting this week is expected to address that issue.

 

Also under consideration is the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa scheduled for mid-year.

 

The Lions are working on a contingency plan to stage an alternative tour in British and Irish venues should South Africa be unable to host the event.

 

If it did go ahead, it could be without crowds.

 

 

As a result, plan to salvage the tour has been put together over the same period of late-June to early-August at non-rugby venues in Newcastle and Birmingham, and in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dublin and London.

 

Ideally, the pandemic will have eased enough to allow some crowds, at the least, to attend games.

 

The three Tests are likely to be played in Cardiff at Millennium Stadium, Dublin at Croke Park and London at Twickenham.

 

However, missing out on the chance to play the Lions would be the South African Super Rugby franchises, due to vaccination issues in South Africa. As a result, organisers are looking at alternative against regional teams in Britain. The Lions will also play Japan and the Barbarians.

 

Transferring the tour to 2022 is not considered because of the issues it would cause in programming in the build-up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

 

Meanwhile, former All Blacks and Samoan international, and Blues Super Rugby coach, Pat Lam is riding high after his Bristol side moved to the top of the Premiership in England when beating Exeter 20-7 at the weekend.

 

Lam told bristolbearsrugby.com, "I'm proud. You can't come to this place and win against these guys unless you bring the right mindset, the right physicality levels and do it as a team, and today was phenomenal.

 

"I know a lot of people think that the Bears way is just throwing the ball around, but this pitch is pretty heavy, and we ground it out.

 

"We needed to be physical, and we dominated them right through the game.

 

"It's a big win for the club. There is a long way to go.

 

"It's more the way we are playing rugby at the moment. People admire all the fancy stuff but, statistically, we have the best maul. No one has scored a maul try against us. They came hard, but we hit them hard, and that's what we planned to do," he said.

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