Players to form a circle before Pro14 matches in anti-racism stance
At each game a moment’s silence will mark the loss of life due to Covid-19 pandemic
Irish rugby returns this weekend when Leinster host Munster at the Aviva Stadium. File photograph: Inpho
The Pro14 resumes after a five-month absence because of coronavirus on Friday night when Benetton’s clash with Zebre launches two rounds of national derbies.
The competition’s organisers announced earlier on Friday a ‘Unity Moment’ will be observed before each kick-off to demonstrate that rugby stands united against racism. It will follow a moment’s silence to mark the loss of life suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic and to honour those who have worked on the frontline.
“This ‘Unity Moment’ will be observed to demonstrate that rugby stands united against racism and to emphasise the game’s core values of solidarity and respect,” they explained in a statement.
“Players will stand in a circular formation and during this time they are free to express themselves in a manner they deem appropriate. This will underline the message of rugby against racism across the territories that encompass the Pro14.”
An abbreviated competition will continue over four successive weekends with rounds 14 and 15 taking place before the semi-finals and final are staged.
Neither Benetton nor Zebre can reach the knockout phase as they launch the weekend’s action in Treviso.
The two South African sides — the Cheetahs and Southern Kings — have yet to a date set for their matches because of the Covid-19 outlook in their country.
Leinster’s 13 wins ensure they will progress to the semi-finals as Conference A winners and they will look to extend their unblemished record when they host Munster in Dublin on Saturday.
Munster and Edinburgh are favourites to progress from a more competitive Conference B, although the Scarlets have an outside chance of advancing.