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Interprovincial series could fill Ulster's rugby void if ban on travel remains

 

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Ireland's four provinces could go head to head before the PRO14 is able to return.

Ireland's four provinces could go head to head before the PRO14 is able to return.

Ireland's four provinces could go head to head before the PRO14 is able to return.

Nothing is off the table as Irish rugby officials contemplate a return to action after the Covid-19 shutdown and Leinster's Guy Easterby believes a souped-up interprovincial championship could fill the void if restrictions on international travel remain in place.

The 2019/20 season is currently on hold and fears are growing that the stoppage could extend for the rest of the year and beyond until a vaccine is found.

The provinces' situation is complicated by the fact that they participate in two international competitions and, if travel remains an issue, they could look inward to find a solution by playing each other until normal service is allowed to resume.

Leinster's director of operations Easterby said the province are well-placed to survive the shutdown financially, but conceded the loss of revenue from their two Aviva Stadium fixtures against Saracens and Munster would be substantial.

He says they are open to behind-closed-doors matches to finish the season if needs be as the IRFU hold regular discussions with the provinces and competition organisers.

"Absolutely," Easterby said when asked about the interpros providing a potential solution.

"Everything will be done in conjunction with the IRFU, the other provinces and PRO14. That sort of scenario is a possibility. I would say there would be ongoing discussions around what that might look like when we get closer to a time when we actually get back playing."

Easterby says Leinster had all of their contract renewals done for 2020/21 before the virus hit and that suggests Rob Kearney will leave at the end of the current season and may have played his last game for Leinster.

"The last thing we'd want for people who have been unbelievable servants to Leinster Rugby is to finish on a note like this," he said without naming the Irish full-back.

Belfast Telegraph