Western Force have been handed an unlikely route back into Super Rugby after Rugby Australia announced a new domestic competition that will start next month.

Super Rugby has been suspended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with travel restrictions making a league featuring teams from five nations unworkable.

Rugby Australia has stepped in to launch a home and away round robin series, beginning on April 3 and featuring its four Super Rugby franchises – the Brumbies, Rebels, Reds and Waratahs – and the Force.

Western Force have competed in Australia's National Rugby Championship since the Perth-based team had their Super Rugby license dissolved in acrimonious circumstances in 2017.

The inclusion of Western Force effectively heralds the end of the Sunwolves' involvement in Super Rugby, with SANZAAR having announced its intention to cut the Japanese franchise from 2021 after the Japanese Rugby Football Union withdrew funding.

Matches will be played behind closed doors in the new competition, for which a fixture list is yet to be finalised.

Rugby Australia expects South Africa and New Zealand to roll out similar domestic competitions, with decisions over how these might relate to Super Rugby and any potential finals series to be discussed in due course.

“Rugby Australia, the four Australian Super Rugby teams and RUPA [Rugby Union Players' Association] are united behind the continuation of Super Rugby in 2020 and have been intensively working towards a competition solution with our SANZAAR partners over the past six days," said Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle.

"There are still some elements to work through as a group, but we are extremely confident that we will deliver a meaningful product for the remainder of the season for fans and broadcasters.

“We have agreed on the principles of proceeding down the path of a domestic solution in Australia which will see our teams compete against each other in a round robin format from April through June, followed by a yet to be determined Finals Series format."

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson is confident the organisation has the cash reserves to cope with the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Super Rugby was suspended for two weeks after New Zealand tightened its borders in response to the proliferation of COVID-19, with prime minister Jacinda Arden announcing on Thursday only citizens and residents would be permitted access.

It has been suggested teams from each of Super Rugby's participating nations could play derbies to enable to competition to continue, though such a plan is yet to be announced.

With teams facing huge losses in revenue, Robinson suggested New Zealand Rugby are in a position where they can help teams bear the brunt of the damage.

"We're working through those scenarios as we speak. There are a number of different scenarios … essentially we've got to make this work," said Robinson, via Stuff.

"We own the responsibility for the future financial viability of the game, we know we've got some incredibly challenging times and some significant headwinds in front of us but we're confident we can work through it."

Rob Nichol, head of the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association, acknowledged players may be forced to accept pay cuts, but Robinson said it was too early to tell if that would be required.

"That's a question for the future," said Robinson. "I know Rob has come out with an initial view on that. We haven't had any detailed conversations with the players.

"I'd stress they've been fantastic so far in how proactive they've been in terms of seeking solutions through all this, and we'll continue to work with them.

"But that's not something we're focused on right now. In due course it might be a conversation we pick up at a later date."

New Zealand has seen 28 cases of coronavirus infection but no deaths.

Pieter-Steph du Toit could have required a leg amputation had it not been for the diligent work of Stormers team doctor Jason Suter, according to coach John Dobson.

World Rugby Player of the Year Du Toit limped out of the Super Rugby defeat to the Blues last month with what did not appear to be a serious injury.

However, a rapid diagnosis from the Stormers medical team at Newlands made it clear that the South Africa flanker's career was in doubt, but he is only set to be out for three months after undergoing surgery.

Dobson said: "Doc deserves enormous credit for Pieter-Steph, had a rugby player lost his leg it would have been devastating for the game. 

"And if it wasn't for the timely intervention then I think [he could have lost his leg]... almost half of the 43 reported cases [worldwide] had resulted in that."

Suter said it took less than 15 minutes to understand the extent of Rugby World Cup-winner Du Toit's injury. 

"He had a medical emergency after the Blues game. He had a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome. It's incredibly rare - there have been only 43 [cases] listed in the literature." Suter said.

He added: "It's a medical emergency because if you don't pick it up early they lose blood supply to the leg and they lose the leg.

"Within 15 minutes of him coming off the field and assessing him, we realised that he was at risk of this particular rare condition. 

"He was taken straight to Vincent Pallotti [Hospital], where he had a vascular surgeon waiting and he was operated on that night.

"It's very unusual, very rare but they had to cut through the muscle to release the pressure and they were only able to close that leg 10 days after his initial injury."

Few sporting events have been able to escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with public gatherings prohibited in many countries across the world.

So, with precious little live sporting events to keep fans entertained, many are looking to the past to satisfy those cravings.

Whether you hark back to specific 'Premier League Years', your favourite World Cups or that time your favourite tennis player lost in the Wimbledon final, nostalgia often has a big part to play in our love of sport.

Below, we picked out five noteworthy events from the world of sport that happened on this day – March 17.

 

1955 – The Richard Riot

Maurice Richard would not have known at the time just how much of an impact his actions on March 13, 1955 would have. A star of the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL, Richard struck a linesman during a match and was consequently banned for the rest of the season. Fans insisted it was too harsh, claiming the sanction was motivated by Richard's French-Canadian heritage. NHL president Clarence Campbell attended the Canadiens' next match and that sparked a riot, which was not contained to the Montreal Forum stadium. A reported $100,000 worth of damage was done, 37 people were injured and 100 arrests we made. Richard cooled the controversy as he accepted the punishment.

1977 – Australia win Centenary Test

Australia and England played out the Centenary Test on March 17, 1977, marking the 100th anniversary of what is considered to be the first Test cricket match. Starting on March 12 and concluding five days later, Australia won by 45 runs, the exact same margin of victory they recorded 100 years earlier.

1984 – Scotland end Five Nations wait

Scotland enjoyed a momentous day in rugby union on March 17, 1984. A 21-12 win over France at Murrayfield saw them clinch their first outright Five Nations win – and Triple Crown – since 1938, and their first Grand Slam since 1925, with Peter Dods' kicking proving decisive on the day. Scotland have only been the solitary winners of the competition – in either its previous guise or as the Six Nations – twice since.

2012 – Fabrice Muamba collapses in FA Cup match

English football was rocked on March 17, 2012, when Bolton Wanderers midfielder Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a televised FA Cup clash at Tottenham. The former England Under-21 player had suffered a cardiac arrest and it was later revealed his heart stopped for 78 minutes. Two days later, Muamba's heart was beating once again without assistance and he was eventually discharged from hospital on April 16. Although he had to retire early, Muamba has since gone into youth coaching.

2019 – McIlroy wins golf's biggest cash prize

This time last year, Rory McIlroy took home what was at the time the biggest purse in golfing history. At the 2019 Players Championship in Sawgrass, McIlroy carded rounds of 67, 65, 70 and 70 to finish 16 under and edge out Jim Furyk by a shot, clinching a pay cheque of $2.25m – the single biggest monetary prize handed out in golf at that point. However, the $3m Jon Rahm took home for winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai later that year set a new benchmark.

The Premiership has been suspended for five weeks and the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Premiership Rugby's decision followed new guidance from the United Kingdom government on Monday.

British prime minister Boris Johnson encouraged people to avoid mass gatherings and all "non-essential" travel and contact with others.

"The safety of our fans, players and staff is our first priority, and we would like to wish all of those who are affected our heartfelt best wishes and a very speedy recovery," a Premiership Rugby statement read.

"We'll continue to work closely with DCMS [the Departure for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] and Public Health England, and to follow the advice of medical experts, and work with our clubs to help them to support their own wider communities at this time."

The decision to call off the European rugby season was taken during a conference call on Monday.

It means the matches in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5 will not now go ahead as planned, although organisers hope to rearrange the fixtures for later dates.

In a statement, the board of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said: "While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, EPCR, in conjunction with the relevant leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to complete the 2019-20 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments at such a time as that aligns with preventative measures undertaken by an overwhelming majority of sport's governing bodies and tournament organisers in Europe.  

"EPCR's priority is the health and welfare of players and club staff, and an update regarding the knockout stages of the tournaments will be communicated to all stakeholders as soon as practicable."

The world's leading sporting competitions have been halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With almost 160,000 confirmed cases of the virus and close to 6,000 deaths, athletes across the globe are waiting to learn when they will return to work.

We take a look at the provisional return dates set out so far.
 

BASKETBALL

The NBA came to a sudden stop when a Utah Jazz player - later revealed to be Rudy Gobert - tested positive on Wednesday, and league commissioner Adam Silver warned the hiatus would "be most likely at least 30 days".

CRICKET

International cricket has been pushed back, but there are no firm dates as things stand for rescheduled matches. England's two-match Test tour of Sri Lanka was called off midway through a warm-up match, while the ODI series between India and South Africa was postponed after the first of three matches was washed out. Australia won an opening ODI against New Zealand behind closed doors, but the remaining two 50-over matches were delayed, along with a three-match Twenty20 series. There is at least a provisional date for the Indian Premier League to belatedly start: April 15, pushed back from March 29.

FOOTBALL

European football is at a standstill, with the Champions League among the elite-level competitions suspended. UEFA is set to meet to discuss the future of that tournament and Euro 2020 this week, while FIFA has advised postponements of upcoming international fixtures, for which clubs are no longer required to release their players. The Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A are all paused at least until April 3 although the Bundesliga has only called off one matchweek as things stand, while Ligue 1 is off "until further notice".

GOLF

The PGA Tour initially announced a three-week suspension, with The Players Championship stopped after its opening round. The Masters - won in 2019 by Tiger Woods - was therefore set to mark the Tour's return on April 9, but organisers soon announced the first major of the year would also be postponed. The RBC Heritage on April 16 is the next scheduled tournament. Organisers are planning "regular status updates in the coming weeks" amid "a very fluid situation that requires constant review, communication, and transparency".

MOTORSPORT

The Formula One season is still to start after races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China were postponed or cancelled. The Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 remains on at this stage, however, while managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has suggested the calendar could be reshuffled, with races held in August. NASCAR has postponed events in Atlanta and Miami this and next weekend, and all IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

RUGBY

Rugby league has largely been able to continue both in England and in Australia, but the same is not true of rugby union. Six Nations matches were among the first to fall by the wayside amid the crisis in Italy, with the Azzurri seeing matches against both Ireland and England postponed until later in the year. France versus Ireland was off, too, while Scotland's trip to Wales belatedly followed suit. Club action has ground to a halt, with Super Rugby finally paused this weekend and no return imminent.

TENNIS

After Indian Wells and then the Miami Open were cancelled, the ATP Tour announced its suspension up to and including the week of April 20. The WTA Tour preferred to call off individual events, but the schedule is now clear for five weeks. It was still to make a decision on the European clay-court season. The Fed Cup finals and play-offs - set for mid-April - have been pushed back, meanwhile, with the ITF vowing to address any impact the postponement may have on players' eligibility for Tokyo 2020.

OTHERS

Despite chaos surrounding various sports across the globe, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe says the country is still planning for the Olympic Games in Tokyo to go ahead as scheduled in July. The London Marathon and the Boston Marathon will both still go ahead this year, but with revised dates of October 4 and September 14, respectively. The Giro d'Italia will be postponed and a new date for the race will not be announced until at least April 3 when a decree in Italy banning sport ends. The NBA is not the only American competition to be disrupted, meanwhile, with the 2020 MLB season moved back "at least two weeks" from March 26, and the NHL campaign paused indefinitely.

Rugby Australia has shut down its Sydney headquarters for two days after two members of the sevens programme went into self-isolation over coronavirus concerns.

RA announced on Sunday that the pair experienced symptoms after attending the High Performance centre within its Moore Park headquarters during the past week. They will be tested for coronavirus with the results expected in the next 72 hours.

As a result, the facility will now be closed for an intensive clean with all administrative staff advised to work from home.

An RA statement read: "Rugby Australia has implemented a stringent policy with regards to any player or staff member that experiences symptoms associated with the virus.

"The policy concerns any person who starts to exhibit signs and symptoms of the virus that has recently travelled overseas to any country or has been in direct contact with someone known to have the virus. The person must self-isolate for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19."

The Brumbies eased past Australian rivals the Waratahs 47-14 in the final game before the Super Rugby hiatus due to coronavirus.

SANZAAR announced the competition would be paused following this weekend's matches amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which continues to disrupt sport around the world.

The Sharks managed to play their game on Saturday, beating South African rivals the Stormers 24-14, while the Jaguares-Highlanders clash was cancelled.

The Brumbies and Waratahs managed to take to the field on Sunday, with the former cruising to victory at GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Tom Wright and Solomone Kata scored two tries apiece to lead the Brumbies to their fourth consecutive victory over the Waratahs, whose slim finals chances were dealt a major blow.

The visiting Waratahs twice led the derby in the first half through captain Rob Simmons and Mark Nawaqanitawase, but on both occasions, they were pegged back by the Brumbies.

A quick-fire Kata double and Cadeyrn Neville's try gave the Brumbies – who lost captain Allan Alaalatoa to an arm injury after half-an-hour – a 21-14 half-time lead.

The Australian Conference-leading Brumbies added another four tries in the second half thanks to Wright, Joe Powell and Tom Banks – Noah Lolesio finishing with four conversions.

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

SANZAAR has confirmed the planned Super Rugby fixture between Jaguares and Highlanders, scheduled to be played on Saturday, has been cancelled.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused events and competitions across the globe to be put on hold as governments aim to combat its spread.

On Saturday, it was confirmed Super Rugby would be postponed indefinitely after the current round of fixtures, meaning Sunday's fixture between the Brumbies and the Waratahs was due to be the last fixture for the foreseeable future.

SANZAAR's decision to halt the season came after New Zealand's government announced stringent new rules, with visitors or returning travellers told to self-isolate for 14 days.

These restrictions come into place from midnight Sunday in New Zealand.

Now, Saturday's game between Jaguares and Highlanders in Buenos Aires will not go ahead, allowing the Dunedin-based side to travel back to New Zealand early.

Andy Marinos, SANZAAR's CEO, said: "SANZAAR does not take this decision lightly, but after consulting widely with key stakeholders, the SANZAAR Executive Committee has taken the necessary step to cancel the scheduled fixture, with the players' and team management's health and welfare paramount.

"As stated previously, while disappointed to be in this position, our priority is to ensure the players currently overseas return home healthy and safely to be with their families."

The match will officially be declared a draw and both teams will receive two points.

The Sharks recorded a hard-fought 24-14 victory over South African rivals the Stormers in their final Super Rugby match before the league's suspension after a fiery start at Kings Park.

SANZAAR announced earlier on Saturday the competition would be paused following this weekend's matches amid the coronavirus outbreak.

And it was the Sharks who headed into the indefinite break top of the conference with a tense late win, although they might well have been comfortable had Johan du Toit been shown a red card after just 12 seconds.

Indeed, it appeared Du Toit was going to be sent off as he challenged Louis Schreuder in the air.

Du Toit took a knee to his head in the process as Schreuder left the match on a stretcher, but the referee, advised by the TMO to dismiss the Stormers player, showed only a yellow card.

Aphelele Fassi broke the deadlock in a tight affair after 26 minutes as he ripped through a hole on the left, only for the Stormers to provide a swift response through Herschel Jantjies following a sloppy restart.

Curwin Bosch brought the first half to a close with a drop goal deep into added time that secured a three-point lead, which the same man extended from the tee early in the second period after Jantjies had bowed out with an apparent injury.

But the Stormers were in front for the first time when Damian Willemse converted from a Paul de Wet score just after the hour-mark.

A stunning long-range Bosch dispatch edged the conference leaders in front once more, however, and his third successful penalty late on preceded a rapid Makazole Mapimpi try that sealed victory.

The 2020 Super Rugby season will be suspended following this weekend's matches, SANZAAR has announced.

The rugby union competition was one of the few still going ahead across the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-level sport has widely been postponed or cancelled, with close to 150,000 confirmed cases of the virus and over 5,500 deaths worldwide.

Super Rugby will now fall into line with other tournaments, too, after stringent new rules were imposed in New Zealand, where visitors or returning travellers have been told to self-isolate for 14 days.

A SANZAAR statement on Saturday read: "Following a SANZAAR executive committee teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand government that all returning travellers will have to self-isolate for 14 days, including Super Rugby players, SANZAAR believes it has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament at the conclusion of this weekend's matches for the foreseeable future.

"Five New Zealand teams play in the 15-team Super Rugby tournament and SANZAAR completely understands the directive issued by the New Zealand government given concerns globally over the COVID-19 virus and the primary aim to reduce exposure and spread of the virus."

Chief executive Andy Marinos said: "We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives."

He added: "SANZAAR will remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament if at all possible in future weeks."

The season is in matchweek seven of 18 in the regular season.

The Hurricanes, Blues, Crusaders and Reds have already recorded victories this weekend, with three fixtures still to come.

The Sharks host the Stormers and the Jaguares play the Highlanders later on Saturday, before the Brumbies and the Waratahs meet in the final fixture before the league's suspension on Sunday.

The Super Rugby season was thrown into doubt by the New Zealand government's directive on the coronavirus pandemic, which came as the Reds claimed a 41-17 bonus-point victory over the Bulls in Brisbane.

A directive for any travellers returning to New Zealand to self-isolate for 14 days has made it unlikely that the Bulls can continue their tour, with scheduled games against the Waratahs, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs now unlikely to take place.

At Suncorp Stadium, the Bulls raced into a 17-0 lead as Rosko Specman's devastating wing play inspired three superb tries, but the hosts rediscovered their rhythm as Liam Wright and Isaac Lucas went over to make it 17-14 at the interval.

The second half was all Reds, with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto scoring in the corner one minute after the restart, before Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert and Taniela Tupou ensured the hosts finished with six tries.

Crusaders hooker Hugh Roach was sent-off on his debut but his side marched on to claim a 49-14 victory over the Sunwolves in Brisbane that put them top of the Super Rugby table.

Roach received his marching orders after he elbowed Sunwolves prop Hencus van Wyk in the head with Crusaders leading 35-14, thanks to two earlier tries from Sevu Reece, along with scores from Tom Christie, Luke Romano and Sione Havili.

After Roach's dismissal, Reece was yellow carded for a professional foul, but the visitors kept the pressure on and scored further tries through Braydon Ennor and Fergus Burke to claim an impressive win.

Victory came easier for Blues, who brushed aside the Lions in a 43-10 win at Eden Park.

Leon MacDonald's men are in fine form and claimed their fourth straight win, with Rieko Ioane scoring a double as Stephen Perofeta, Gerard Crowley-Tuioti and Hoskins Sotutu also contributed tries.

A run of five wins in six games has seen the Blues surge into contention to reach the play-offs for the first time in nearly a decade.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chairman Gareth Davies believes the right call was made after it was decided to postpone the Six Nations clash with Scotland.

With the British government opting not to ban large events, it seemed as though Wales' encounter with Scotland would go ahead as planned in Cardiff on Saturday.

However, the WRU confirmed on Friday, 24 hours prior to kick-off, that the match would not be played amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It has been a tough week," said Davies in quotes reported by BBC Sport. "But we believe it was the proper and responsible thing to do."

"I don't think we could've dealt with it any better. We made a decision last night that this match would go ahead. In a very quickly moving world things had changed by late morning today.

"We initially followed the advice of government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence and that was the case up until [Thursday] night.

"We had an emergency board meeting to consider everything and we still thought, bearing in mind the advice we had, that keeping the game on was the way to go.

"Last night the Premier League were carrying on but by this morning that had changed and the EFL went on a similar course, as did the Celtic v Rangers game, in all being called off and other major global events were also being pulled.

"We spoke to the government this morning, who understood our position."

"For us to be the only sporting event to be on, we were mindful of the seriousness of the situation. We took into account supporters, players and staff and asked whether it was essential to subject to that risk."

The sporting calendar over the next few weeks looks extremely bare as events continue to be postponed or cancelled as a result of the threat of the coronavirus.

All of Europe's top five leagues have now been suspended, as the Bundesliga followed Serie A, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League in calling a halt to proceedings just hours before its latest round of fixtures was due to kick off.

Golf's first major, the Masters, will not take place on April 9 as initially scheduled, while the Giro d'Italia, the final Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, and marathons in London and Boston have all been affected by COVID-19, too.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 140,000, we take a look at the latest round of postponements.

 

After the PGA Tour cancelled all events leading up the Masters, all eyes were on whether the prestigious event at Augusta National Golf Club would be called off until further notice. That news arrived on Friday, with organisers saying it was "appropriate under these unique circumstances".

With around four hours to go before the first Bundesliga game of matchday 26, the league was finally suspended due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.

Defender Timo Hubers, who plays for 2. Bundesliga side Hannover, was one of the first players across Europe to test positive for the virus, and Paderborn, who had been due to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night, were waiting on tests results for their players when news came down from the league.

Clubs will meet again on Monday, with the league advising a suspension until April 2.

World Cup qualifiers in Africa were suspended, while European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have stopped their players from training at their facilities for the time being.

As Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba encouraged people to "dab to beat coronavirus" and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp backed the decision to postpone the Premier League, Serie A clubs Sampdoria and Fiorentina reported positive cases involving their players in Italy, one of the worst-affected countries.

The country's major cycling race, the Giro d'Italia, will not begin as scheduled on May 9 as Hungary said it was unwilling to host the first three stages. The whole race was subsequently postponed.

Six Nations contest between Italy and England in Rome, originally slated for Saturday, had already been called off, and the only fixture of the tournament not to be postponed was put back indefinitely on Friday. Wales' clash with Scotland in Cardiff was finally called off the day before it was set to take place, while Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins has also been postponed.

South Africa's ODI tour of India will be rescheduled for another time, the first match having been washed out on Thursday, while the Boston Marathon will now take place on September 14. The new date for the London Marathon is October 4.

Elsewhere, NASCAR has postponed races in Atlanta and Miami over the next two weekends. Those races were initially going to be held without fans. All IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

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