Paris (AFP)

It was expected, it is now official: the steering committee of the National Rugby League on Tuesday validated the final cessation of the 2019-2020 season in Top 14 and Pro D2.

"The classification of the Top 14 is stopped and approved at the end of the 17th day, the classification of the Pro D2 is stopped and approved at the end of the 23rd day after taking into account the three late matches (between Montauban and Provence, Carcassonne and Valence Romans, Soyaux-Angoulême and Nevers, editor's note) according to the equalization system provided for in the general regulations of the FFR ", explains the NLR in a press release.

Result, the first two divisions of rugby in France end without a drum or trumpet but, above all, without the title of champion of France, neither ascent nor descent between the Top 14, the Pro D2 and the Federal 1.

It is the first time since the Second World War that no champion has been crowned in the Top 14.

At the end of April, the NRL and the presidents of the thirty professional clubs had agreed on the end of the season for the first two divisions, frozen since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Top 14 will therefore resume with the 1st day of the 2020-2021 season, scheduled for September 4.

"In accordance with its statutes and under the terms of the FFR-LNR agreement, this resolution will be submitted to the approval of the General Assembly of the LNR which will meet in exceptional session on June 11, and to the FFR Steering Committee", specifies the League.

- The European Cup will wait -

Another point raised by this steering committee, the number of places in the European Cup for the clubs of the Top 14. The French thus claim eight tickets in total, against six usually.

The EPCR, the organizing body for the continental tournaments, had confirmed in mid-May that it was studying an overhaul of the European Cup, with an hypothesis of 24 clubs, including eight French.

"The National Rugby League will rule on the rules for qualifying French clubs for the Champions Cup when the EPCR has confirmed the competition format applicable in 2020-2021 in the exceptional context linked to the health crisis," added the LNR.

Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Racing 92, Toulon, La Rochelle and Clermont, the first six at the time of the stop in mid-March, would be joined by Toulouse and Montpellier, respectively 7th and 8th, but who are also two of the clubs to having supplied the most international players to the XV of France between the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Six Nations Tournament.

With regard to the National Championship, the new third division pushed by the Federation, allowing the clubs to prepare, on the sporting and structural level, for an accession within the professional sector, "the work of the steering unit to which participate the representatives of the LNR continues ".

The steering committee also approved the creation of a specific device to encourage the return to employment of players without a contract for the 2020-2021 season at the end of the transfer period, scheduled for July 15, 2020.

This system provides in particular for a specific transfer period for these players from the end of the transfer periods (ie July 15, 2020) until January 31, 2021. These players will not be considered as medical jokers or "additional players" nor counted in the maximum number of authorized professional contracts. Their remuneration will however be included in the salary cap.

© 2020 AFP