English Premiership sets August date for restart


London (AFP)

Premiership Rugby announced its plans on Friday to resume the English top-flight season on August 15 after the coronavirus shutdown.

Rugby chiefs earlier this week gave clearance for English Premiership clubs to start non-contact training.

The competition was suspended in mid-March but the intention is still to finish the season.

Exeter are five points clear of Sale at the top of the table, with Bristol and Northampton occupying the other two play-off places.

"Nothing will happen until it is safe to do so but we will do everything we can to resume the 2019/20 Premiership Rugby campaign on Saturday, 15 August," Darren Childs, chief executive of English Premiership Rugby, said in a statement.

"We won't take risks with people's health, and rugby has unique challenges due to levels of proximity and impact, but with a number of clubs moving to stage one, it is important for us to give players, coaches and clubs clarity on when they can look to return.

"Bearing that in mind, we look forward to the restart of the season."

The Premiership said the structure and format for the rest of the campaign would "follow in due course".

Each team has nine games still to play in the regular season but relegation is already decided, with Saracens set to play in the Championship next season as punishment for salary cap breaches.

Newcastle will replace Saracens after the second-tier Championship season was cancelled.