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RFL chief says Leeds could be sanctioned for Catalans no-show

Rugby Football League Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer has reiterated that Leeds Rhinos may be punished for failing to fulfil their fixture against Catalans Dragons.

The Rhinos decided not to travel to France on medical grounds after a member of the team started to show symptoms of coronavirus – with the player later cleared following tests.

Leeds Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield said the club felt “it was the responsible thing to do” citing that all players and staff would be sharing the flight with members of the public.

Following their decision not to travel, the game’s governing body stated: “The consequences of this decision on the match, and any sanction, will be determined by the RFL Board.”

Despite receiving criticism for the statement, Rimmer remained unmoved when questioned about a punishment for the Rhinos during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live.

He said: “Yes it (a sanction) is a possibility. We spoke with Leeds at some length this week on that particular issue.

Ralph Rimmer has been the full-time chief executive of the RFL since 2018. Credit: Richard Long/News Images

“We’ve applied the guidelines, which the government have asked us to observe. Leeds took a unilateral decision not to travel to that fixture.

“That will follow due process now.”

Leeds decision not to make the trip has almost been vindicated with many flights back from both France and Spain cancelled over the weekend due to coronavirus fears.

However, Rimmer says the RFL are simply following government guidelines and everything around the Rhinos’ case will be considered.

“We were asked to observe some directives from the government,” he said.

“We asked particularly about this scenario. We passed that on to the club and they took a unilateral decision. I’m sure the board will look at everything that’s built around that case in particular.

Leeds decided not to travel to France after a player started to show symptoms of coronavirus. Credit: News Images

“The rugby league board has been through a lot of landmark cases. It will be an interesting case.”

With most other major sporting organisations postponing indefinitely due to the pandemic, rugby league clubs will meet on Monday morning to discuss how to proceed.

The whole Toronto Wolfpack team were stood down on Sunday night after four of their players were told to self-isolate after showing symptoms of the coronavirus.

Although the Canadian club stated this was a ‘precautionary matter’, it is likely to add weight to the argument for the season to be suspended due to the risks of COVID-19.

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