Covid takes the punch out of Boxing Day fixtures thumbnail

Covid takes the punch out of Boxing Day fixtures

Champions Toulouse’s home game on Sunday with Stade Francais became the fourth Top 14 clash to be called off due to a surfeit of Covid-19 positive tests in the visiting club.

The decimated round of Boxing Day fixtures equates to the
English Premier League which has seen three of Sunday’s scheduled matches
called off due to Covid.

Two Premier League club managers, Steven Gerrard of Aston
Villa and Crystal Palace’s Patrick Vieira will be unable to take their places
in the dugout for their respective matches due to testing positive. 

The Toulouse match joins Sunday’s Brive-Clermont clash and
two which were due to be played on Monday Racing 92-Pau and Toulon hosting
leaders Begles-Bordeaux.

The French league (LNR) said “the health situation in
the (Stade Francais) squad “had forced their hand to postpone the match.

“The date of the rescheduled match will be made known
at a later date,” the LNR added.

Just three matches of the halfway point of the league season
remain on.

Sunday’s game between Perpignan and Castres and two on
Monday, bottom side Biarritz hosting Montpellier and last season’s beaten
finalists La Rochelle at home to Lyon.

Finding dates for the postponed matches could prove
problematic especially as seven European matches featuring French clubs were
postponed last weekend due to the stricter travel regulations imposed by the
British Government.

However, there are three weekends free of Top 14 fixtures
but they are set aside due to them being Six Nations matchdays.

Covid infections in France hit six figures on Saturday,
health officials recording 104,611 cases over the previous 24 hours, the third
consecutive day the numbers have been record highs.

The latest figures mark a dramatic rise since the beginning
of the month: on December 4, the numbers broke 50,000 for the first time before
rising steadily.

Scottish sports events have as of Sunday become
“effectively spectator-free” as part of a drive to slow the spread of
the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s administration told the
Scottish Parliament last Tuesday crowds at outdoor public events would be
capped at 500 from December 26 for “up to three weeks”.

Her announcement followed even tougher measures announced in
Wales, where all sports events must be held behind closed doors from December
26.

The new rules in Scotland will impact football fixtures over
the festive period including the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers on
January 2.

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