Coronavirus wrap: Dutch GP postponed to 2021 and World Rugby offers law trials

The Dutch Grand Prix has been put back until 2021 due to coronavirus.

The race, which was being revived for the first time since 1985, was originally due to be staged on May 3, with organisers hoping to stage it later this year after its initial postponement.

But with sporting events in Holland under tight restriction due to the pandemic, the decision has been made to move it to next year.

A statement read: “Due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix has, as previously announced, been postponed.

“The organisation of the Dutch Grand Prix, in consultation with Formula One Management, has had to conclude that it is no longer possible to hold a race with an audience this year. Therefore, it has been decided to postpone the race definitively to 2021.

“Together with the motorsport federation FIA, Formula One Management will determine the schedule for 2021 and with that the new date of the Dutch Grand Prix. Like every year the date will be announced by the FIA by the end of 2020. All tickets remain valid for the new race.”

This year was due to mark an end to a 25-year absence from the Formula One calendar.

The race was last held in 1985 when Niki Lauda won before the Zandvoort track was closed.

World Rugby’s executive committee has approved 10 optional law trials that provide member unions with measures to help reduce the risk of Covid-19 tranmission.

Unions can apply to implement one or more of the temporary law amendments as domestic trials in line with the world governing body’s return to play guidance.

A World Rugby statement said the trials “provide limits to scrum options with no scrum resets, limits for players joining rucks and mauls, time to play the ball at the base of scrums and rucks reduced from five to three seconds and only one movement permitted for a maul.”

The trials, underpinned by World Health Organisation guidance, were considered by a specialist Law Review Group consisting of coaches, players, match officials, medics and law specialists following detailed analysis of 60 matches.

The health and well-being of the rugby family is paramount

World Rugby say the ruck and maul measures could “reduce contact exposure for tight five players by more than 30 per cent, reduced exposure at the ruck by up to 25 per cent and reduce maul exposure by 50 per cent.”

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The health and well-being of the rugby family is paramount.

“We have extensively evaluated the perceived risk areas within the game in partnership with our unions. This has enabled an evidence-based assessment of risk areas and playing positions, which led us to develop optional temporary law amendments.”

The 10 optional law trials cover scrum, tackle, ruck and maul. The two recommendations on tackling are to reinforce the high tackle sanction framework for high tackle offences and to remove the choke tackle from the game.

In addition to the on-field law trials, a number of hygiene measures are recommended for playing and training.

These include mandatory hand and face sanitisation pre- and post-match, regular sanitisation of the match ball before during and after matches, single-use water bottles, changing kit at half-time, prevention of huddles and celebrations, prevention of spitting and nose clearance.