Rugby's Pro14 plans August return to action in Ireland

Dublin (AFP) –


Rugby union's Pro14 is preparing for a return to action in late August, with plans unveiled for matches between the four Irish provinces.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has outlined proposals to resume the 2019/20 season with derby fxtures in Dublin on the weekend of August 22-23.

The competition, which brings together sides from Italy, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and South Africa, has been indefinitely suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said on the IRFU website: "Our documents are now with the government and I would like to acknowledge the cooperation and support we have received from the government and its agencies, in particular Sport Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

"Based on these protocols, we have set target dates of 22nd and 23rd August for a return to play with the staging of Guinness Pro14 derby fixtures between the provinces at the Aviva Stadium behind closed doors."

He added: "In these times these matches are not just rugby fixtures, they are a beacon of hope for the entire country."

Pro14 bosses announced on Friday they had agreed to sell a 28 percent stake in the five-nation league to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

Browne said the Irish body would net £30 million ($37 million) from the deal.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips said he looked forward to a "sea change in the ability of the Pro14 to realise its full potential".