Stade Francais have cancelled a friendly against Toulon as players who tested positive for coronavirus have developed lesions on their lungs.

L'Équipe last week reported that up to 25 positive tests have been returned at the Top 14 club.

Stade were due to face Toulon next Thursday, but the Paris giants on Wednesday revealed that match will not go ahead as some players who contracted COVID-19 must rest for at least another week.

"In light of the mandatory medical examinations for all players who have tested positive for the COVID-19 RT-PCR test, it appears that some of them are carriers of lung damage due to the virus," a club statement said.

"These lesions require a period of complete rest estimated for the moment at a minimum of one week and which will be added to the fourteen already observed.

"Other reviews are currently under way.

"In addition, the input of the medical commission of the National Rugby League for an advisory opinion resulted, for obvious health reasons, in the cancellation of the friendly match against RC Toulon scheduled for August 27.

"Once again, the club would like to thank all those who have shown their support during these last days."

Stade are due to get the new season started against Bordeaux-Begles on September 4.

Stade Francais have signed Telusa Veainu from Leicester Tigers, as well as Gloucester's Gerbrandt Grobler. 

Veainu, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, has agreed a three-year deal with the Top 14 heavyweights as Leicester cut costs due to the coronavirus crisis. 

South African lock Grobler will join Veainu in Paris, signing on for two seasons with the option for a third. 

Tigers director of rugby Geordan Murphy spoke of his disappointment that Tongan Veainu has left Welford Road after almost five seasons at the Premiership club. 

"Murphy said: "We thank Telusa for all that he has given to Leicester Tigers during his time with us. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been lost on anyone and, while we hoped to see Telusa play out the remaining one-and-a-half seasons of his contract with us at Tigers, we appreciate the varying individual circumstances of all our players and wish him, his partner and child well in their next chapter in Paris." 

England centre Manu Tuilagi also left the Tigers last week after failing to agree terms. 

Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has signed for Japanese Top League side Shining Arcs.

Laidlaw, 34, retired from international duty after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and has ended his three-year association with Clermont Auvergne for a move to Japan.

The experienced scrum-half will team up with Australia flanker Liam Gill and Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi ahead of the 2021 season.

"At the Scotland Tests in Japan in 2016 and at the World Cup last year, I was able to experience the wonderful culture of Japan and meet wonderful fans," Laidlaw said in a Shining Arcs statement.

"Every time I have visited Japan, I was welcomed with a wonderful hospitality and I look forward to living in this country and becoming a member of Shining Arcs."

This year's Top League season was cancelled due to coronavirus and the 2021 campaign is not scheduled to begin until January.

Izack Rodda has joined Lyon just over a month after his Reds departure was confirmed.

Rugby Australia (RA) and the Reds released Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings from their contracts following a pay dispute in May.

Rodda, who has won 25 caps for Australia, refused to accept a reduced salary amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 23-year-old lock was on Wednesday confirmed as a Lyon player along with number eight Gillian Galan, who makes the move from Toulouse.

Mathieu Bastareaud has also joined the Top 14 side along with Colby Fainga'a, Joe Taufete'e and Leo Berdeu.

Lyon were second in the table when the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Montpellier have confirmed the signing of South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach on a three-year deal.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup winner was reported to be bound for France when he announced he would leave Northampton Saints at the end of this season back in January.

With the Premiership not resuming until August at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic and Reinach's contract expiring at the end of June, the 30-year-old has played his last game for Saints.

Montpellier on Friday announced that Reinach will showcase his talents in the Top 14.

"Cobus is a world champion, with outstanding athletic qualities," said Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa.

"He is very skilled, both in kicking and passing."

Reinach, who spent three years with Northampton, has been capped 14 times by the Springboks and made two appearances in their World Cup triumph in Japan last year.

The 2019-20 Top 14 season has been cancelled with no champions crowned or teams relegated, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) announced on Tuesday.

France's domestic professional rugby campaign, which has been on hiatus since March, has been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An LNR statement read: "Faced with the exceptional circumstances linked to COVID-19, on a proposal from the Bureau, and at the end of the consultation process carried out within the framework of the organisation set up in the context of the health crisis, the steering committee adopted the resolution providing for the permanent cessation of the professional championships of first division (Top 14) and second division (Pro D2)."

The Top 14 and Pro D2 will return for the 2020-21 campaign with the same teams after promotion and relegation was abandoned.

Qualification for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will be determined by the LNR once guidance is received from European Professional Club Rugby.

Bordeaux-Begles were first in the Top 14, eight points clear of Lyon. Stade Francais were last and in danger of dropping into the second division.

The LNR's steering committee will propose at an extraordinary general assembly on June 11 that a state-guaranteed loan be taken out in order to maintain payments assigned to clubs for the 2019-20 campaign.

While professional football has returned in Germany and will soon be back under way in England, Spain and Italy too, the LNR's decision falls in line with the cancellation of Ligue 1.

However, in that case, Paris Saint-Germain were awarded the title and Toulouse and Amiens were relegated to the second tier.

France full-back Anthony Bouthier has signed a two-year contract extension with Montpellier.

Bouthier joined Montpellier from Pro D2 outfit Vannes last year and continued his rapid rise by making his Test debut in the Six Nations opener against England in February.

The 27-year-old started all four matches in the competition before it was suspended with Les Bleus second in the table, behind England on points difference.

Montpellier on Monday announced they have rewarded the rapid Bouthier for an outstanding start to his time at the club.

Bouthier, now contracted until 2023, said: "I am very happy to extend my contract for two more seasons. Thank you to the staff and managers for trusting me.

"I feel great in this city and in the club. I made the choice to stay because it is the MHR which made me discover the highest level and which gives me confidence.

"It is also a club which plays the leading roles each year and which has ambitions to raise its first Brennus Shield [awarded to the French champions].

"Now I can't wait to get back to the field and the team-mates to have a great season, hoping to play in front of our supporters."

Former New Zealand full-back Ben Smith has denied speculation that he will rejoin the Highlanders.

Smith joined Top 14 side Pau after the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year, bringing an end to his illustrious All Blacks career.

There has been talk the 33-year-old could be on his way back to the Highlanders for the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.

However, Smith says he will be no more than a spectator when his former club resumes action after the Super Rugby season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He posted on Instagram: "Super Rugby Aotearoa looks like a great concept

"I'm looking forward to supporting the Highlanders and watching them give it a crack. I'm not sure where the speculation has come from but I won't be playing in this year's competition.

"I'm looking forward to getting alongside my club side in Green Island and getting back to grassroots where it all started."

The Super Rugby Aotearoa, featuring the Highlanders, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Crusaders, starts on June 13.

European rugby organisers are holding discussions over a revised structure for the 2020-21 season, while also outlining plans to complete the current campaign.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup schedules had to be halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no imminent return to action on the cards.

However, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is making "every effort" to make sure the knockout stages do eventually take place, subject to working within health guidelines and under consideration for the welfare of players.

A statement from the governing body revealed the hope is for the 2020 finals to take place on October 16 and 17.

As for next season, a possible change to the Champions Cup could see the competition grow from 20 to 24 teams, meaning eight each from the Pro14, English Premiership and Top 14 competitions.

Fixtures would be held over eight weekends instead of nine, though a new format will only apply on an "exceptional basis", according to a statement from EPCR.

"Ongoing discussions with EPCR's league and union shareholders regarding new formats have included the possibility of a 24-club Heineken Champions Cup with eight representatives from each of Europe's leading league competitions, played over eight weekends", the statement read.

"If adopted, any new format would apply to next season's tournament only on an exceptional basis.

"In the meantime, EPCR remains committed to making every effort to conclude the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season subject to official advice and with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community in mind.

"It is hoped that the 2020 finals could be staged on 16 and 17 October."

This season's Top 14 season was abandoned after the French government ruled there would be no sporting events staged until the beginning of September.

The Stade Velodrome in Marseille was due to host both European club rugby finals in May.

Racing 92 have announced the signings of Australia duo Kurtley Beale and Luke Jones

Utility back Beale will leave the Waratahs for a second spell in Europe, having played for Premiership side Wasps in the 2016-17 season.

Beale has won 92 caps for the Wallabies, so the 31-year-old will still be eligible to play for his country.

The playmaker has signed a two-year deal with Top 14 giants Racing and will move to Paris when the Super Rugby season, which has been suspended due to the coronavirus crisis, ends.

Waratahs captain Rob Simmons said of Beale's decision to move on: "That's huge news for us. We're going to miss him.

"A player like that, he's got great experience, he's done a lot for this club, he is the most capped Waratah in history, so to lose someone like that is huge and I suppose this next little bit in this competition, whatever does get off the ground, it will be a good chance for him to send us off."

Flanker Jones will also ply his trade in the French capital next year after spending the past two seasons with the Rebels.

The 29-year-old spent three years with Bordeaux Begles before returning to Melbourne last year.

Racing sporting director Yannick Nyanga said: "We've tried to mix youth and experience in positions where we haven't managed to pull through from our academy.

"We have two premium signings who will bring some experience and their ability."

Full-back Benjamin Fall is the latest player to leave Top 14 side Montpellier.

Fall joined Montpellier from Racing 92 in 2014 and has played 99 games for the club, but he will not reach three figures.

The 31-year-old, capped 14 times by France, joins the likes of Nemani Nadolo in leaving Montpellier.

Fall won the European Challenge Cup in 2016 and was a Top 14 runner-up two years ago during his six-year stay.

He told the club's official website: "I will have a word for each of the people I have come into contact with in this club during these six years which have been exceptional, rich in learning, positive or negative emotions, questioning, sharing, laughter, crying, doubts, advice etc.

"I have never cheated, always given everything for this club. I hope I have demonstrated it."

Fall had no news of where he will be playing next season.

Vincent Clerc is anticipating a "fantastic" 2020-21 Top 14 season after the previous campaign was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bordeaux Begles were eight points clear at the summit with nine games of the regular season remaining when the action was brought to a halt.

The season was scrapped at the end of last month and it is hoped the best teams in France will be back on the field to start again in September.

Former France wing Clerc is expecting big things when rugby union returns in his homeland and thinks the 2019-20 competition was nicely poised for a gripping finale.

He told Stats Perform: "Who impressed me last season? There are players, of course, but if I have to choose a team, it's Bordeaux. They had a fantastic season.

"They are the Top 14 leaders. We have also seen an amazing start for Bayonne. Before the break, Toulouse were coming back. I think it was an undecided/uncertain season.

"This year, Toulon also had a good season. So it was a nice championship this year. I am looking forward to see it starting again.

"I think next season can be fantastic, because the 2019-20 season was very enjoyable. I am looking forward to the next season."

Clerc says the players will need some game time before next season begins.

"No, they [the players] can't be at 100 per cent [in September]. Maybe there will be some friendly games," he added. 

"But if there is no friendly game, the physical preparation and the training sessions will never replace the matches. So they will need some matchdays to find their pace, to find the right intensity.

"Everybody will return to the competition, everybody will try some things and find their balance. But it will take some matchdays, for sure."

France's Top 14 and the second tier, Pro D2, are to be abandoned for the 2019-20 season with no announcement made on whether champions will be crowned.

Meanwhile, quarter-final matches in the European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup will not be played until September at the earliest.

Both decisions have come after the French government's move to prohibit sport for the next four months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs have agreed with the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) to end the Top 14 campaign to ensure next season can start on time, with the move expected to be rubber-stamped by the league's steering committee.

Prior to the abandonment of the Top 14, Bordeaux-Begles were eight points clear of Lyon at the summit as they sought a first title since 1991.

The Top 14 regular season is usually followed by play-offs to determine the eventual champions.

Three of the eight teams in the last eight of the Champions Cup play their domestic rugby in France and, similarly, three of those sides still in the Challenge Cup are Top 14 outfits.

The quarter-final ties were due to be played between April 3-5 but had already been postponed along with the semis and the two finals, which were set to be held in Marseille on May 22 and 23.

European Professional Club Rugby still intends to complete the continental competitions. 

With three rounds of action still to play, the delays are likely to impact the start of next season's Champions and Challenge Cups, which are scheduled to start in October.

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) has cancelled all matches, gatherings and training sessions at every level of the sport amid the coronavirus outbreak.

President Bernard Laporte said the FFR had called for a stop to all rugby union for an indefinite period as an "essential act of solidarity" with the rest of France.

The France men's national team's Six Nations match against Ireland, which had been due to take place this weekend at the Stade de France, had already been postponed.

France's top professional league, the Top 14, had intended to play matches behind closed doors, but the FFR ruling ends that immediate prospect.

Former national team coach Laporte said: "The French Rugby Federation, a delegate of public service and depositary of the values ​​on which our society is founded, contributes to the national solidarity to fight against the spread of the virus which is currently hitting our country.

"It is our responsibility to take the necessary decisions in line with the announcements developed by the president of the republic.

"Consequently, the FFR suspends from today all its competitions, gatherings and training, as well as those of its leagues, departments and clubs, until the sanitary conditions allow their resumption.

"All championships, of all categories without exception, are suspended, as well as all activities of rugby schools, in order to effectively combat the spread of COVID-19.

"We ask our entire network to scrupulously respect these instructions, which are of very high national interest."

Laporte added: "The contribution of French rugby will be flawless."

Montpellier outside back Nemani Nadolo has agreed to join Leicester Tigers, while brothers Ben and Tom Youngs have signed new deals with the Premiership club.

A powerful runner, clinical finisher and accurate goal-kicker, former Fiji powerhouse Nadolo will move to Welford Road ahead of the 2020-21 season.

The prolific Nadolo, who can play on the wing or as a centre, has racked up over 1,000 points in domestic rugby and scored in excess of 150 professional tries.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said after landing the 32-year-old: "It's certainly one to get excited about, no matter who you are.

"He's a star of the international game and a player that crowds all over the world have been able to enjoy see play.

"Now, the Tigers faithful get that chance and the playing squad, as well as coaching staff, get the opportunity to work alongside and with Nemani from next season."

England scrum-half Ben Youngs and his older sibling, Tigers captain Tom, will line up with Nadolo next season after committing their futures to the club.

Murphy said: "Ben is Tigers through and through and, for more than a decade, has given everything for the badge.

"To have him recommit is sensational for everyone in Leicester; players, coaches, staff and fans."

He added of the skipper: "Tom is everything you can ask for and more in a club captain.

"His leadership and experience are imperative to what we are building here in Leicester and passion for Tigers is unrivalled."

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