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Covid takes the punch out of Boxing Day fixtures

Paris (AFP) – 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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