PRO14 considered hosting matches behind closed doors, but decided to follow a “sensible and responsible approach” in dealing with the current situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus, which led to the championship being suspended on Friday.
Tournament director David Jordan said that there was a discussion about hosting games without fans, but in the end the health and welfare of players, fans and administrators made it impossible.
The travel restrictions in the five countries that Celtic Rugby operates in also put paid to the idea.
“It certainly was something we considered but if you can’t get teams to and from a venue, then it doesn’t make much sense. It isn’t just the fact that travel restrictions are already in place, it is also the question of will there be more travel restrictions in place in a couple of days’ time when you are travelling to other countries,” Jordan said.
“The sensible and responsible approach from our point of view is we just have to pause and reflect a bit and monitor the situation. We have ways in which we can restart our competition with a bit of an adjustment here and there.
“We can try and get our season completed in some shape or form but we just need to let things develop a bit further before we can make any decisions on how best to achieve that.
“It is a difficult set of circumstances but at the end of the day people’s health come first. From a Celtic Rugby point of view, because we are a union-owned entity we have got the support of our national federations. It is a challenge from a health point of view and a financial point of view.”
Jordan added that there are a number of clubs that have put their players on a pre-season training programme and any restart of the competition would have to take this into account.
“One of the other things we have to take into account is local conditions. The players in Italy have basically been told the restrictions have been imposed and you shouldn’t be in groups, you should be at home,” he explained.
“A lot of clubs have put their players on fitness programmes as they would do in a pre-season environment and there is something similar happening in Ireland as well. As you can imagine from a rugby point of view, to be match ready would be a problem. It is another part of the decision-making process.”
PRO14 Rugby has been engaged in ongoing discussions with broadcasters and “we have kept them informed of the decisions and rationale behind them” and will continue to keep all stakeholders informed.
“We will review the situation on a daily basis,” Jordan added and PRO14 Rugby will make any future announcements as the situation deems necessary.