Rugby season below Premiership level scrapped following coronavirus outbreak

The rugby union season for all levels below the Premiership has been scrapped following the coronavirus outbreak.

The move, which applies to "all league, cup and county rugby in England" was announced by the RFU on Friday.

It means Championship clubs like Bedford Blues and Ampthill won't play their remaining seven games.

In a statement, the RFU said clubs could expect a further update in April as they promised to deliver "fair and balanced outcomes".

"We are working through the implications of ending the season early and have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game," RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said.

"We will communicate these outcomes by the middle of April. While we would like to provide all the answers now, we need some time to get it right for the best interests of the game. Rest assured we are working on this as a priority and we will continue to send weekly updates to clubs."

Ampthill's season is over. Credit: PA

A statement from Bedford Blues said added: "As a club we are naturally disappointed to receive news that the 2019/20 Championship season has been cancelled.

"Bedford Blues had made clear its intentions to take time to review and hopefully complete the season at a much later date. We obviously understand the measures that the RFU have taken and appreciate the need for public safety."

The news could have a devastating impact on clubs in the Championship, with many already struggling financially.

As things stand, the RFU are still hoping that the Premiership season will resume.

The league is currently suspended until April 14, but that could be pushed back if the virus continues to spread.

The league is due to finish on June 6, with the Premiership final scheduled for June 20 - although any further delay is likely to put that date in some jeopardy.