Premiership Rugby have confirmed that they are extending the postponement of the current season as uncertainty continues surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last month, the governing body suspended all rugby activity in the top tier of the English domestic competition until April 24th while the Championship was canceled with the RFU last week confirming that Newcastle Falcons will be promoted to the Gallagher Premiership next season.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, Premiership Rugby announced the extension of the suspension but remained positive that they will get the season completed.
“Following a series of constructive meetings with our clubs, investors, players’ representatives, commercial and broadcast partners, and the RFU, we have agreed on our approach to restart rugby, as soon as it is safe to do so.” Premiership Rugby CEO Darren Childs said.
“This is not an easy conversation. We are dealing with a catastrophic pandemic that is unprecedented in our lifetimes, the effects of which are heartbreaking and devastating. We also must recognise that when the pandemic is finally at an end; there will still be the economic challenge for many years to come. The markets and businesses that people rely upon are not immune to this virus.
“Many livelihoods are built on professional sport and Premiership Rugby is proud to be home to many of the world’s greatest players. But the livelihoods are not just those of talented players, there are many vital roles across the clubs: from academy teams to medics, canteen staff to groundspeople. So, I’m proud of how our clubs, staff and players have pulled together to make swift and dignified decisions to preserve the sustainability of their independent businesses in order to sustain the challenges ahead.
“Premiership Rugby represents the global, in that we are privileged to have players who are successful on the world stage; and Premiership Rugby represents the local. We bring together incredible, independent regional businesses with a common set of values.
“The people in these businesses should know that we are creatively working with government and medical professionals to come back promptly, as soon as we know that it is safe to do so.
“Therefore, we all remain committed to finding a way to play, so long as we can do this safely, and with the welfare of players, staff and fans at the heart of every decision.”
To this end, Premiership Rugby is:
1. Further postponing the current season, and working with the RFU, RPA, clubs’ Directors of Rugby and medical staff to scenario-plan for a number of restart dates, with all measures put in place to ensure safety and wellbeing;
2. Exploring with the RFU opportunities to reschedule the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final until later in the year, with all tickets valid for the rescheduled date; and a minimum of 2,500 new tickets to be donated to NHS and essential workers by Premiership Rugby;
3. Continuing its dialogue with DCMS and Public Health England to ensure it resumes play safely and promptly as soon as the government gives its approval to do so.
Exeter were five points clear at the top of the Premiership Rugby table when the season was suspended with Saracens’ relegation already confirmed.