Premiership Rugby has outlined plans to return on 15 August in an effort to complete the 2019/20 season, ending what will be a five-month hiatus for the sport in England.
In what will be one of the final sports to return to action in Britain, rugby union will get the green light to resume matches in late summer, with the top flight still hoping to complete all nine remaining rounds of fixtures before staging the semi-finals and final.
The league outlined plans last week to restart rugby at either one or two stadiums, with Twickenham made available by the Rugby Football Union to stage a number of matches to complete the heavily-delayed season.
And at a board meeting on Thursday, it was agreed that the return of players to training next week means that a start date can now be implemented, with plans now being put in place to kick-off the season on 15 August so long as conditions are safe to do so.
A statement issued on Friday morning read: “Premiership Rugby can confirm it is targeting Saturday 15 August for the resumption of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.
“At a board meeting last night, the target restart date was agreed following the announcement earlier this week that Premiership Rugby clubs can move to Stage 1: Elite Sport Return to Training.”
The structure of how the season resumption will look will be confirmed at a later date, with venues and fixtures still to be determined, and although midweek games are under consideration, the announcement that the league will resume on a Saturday strengthens the suggestion that a neutral venue such as Twickenham will be heavily relied upon.
“Nothing will happen until it is safe to do so but we will do everything we can to resume the 2019-20 Gallagher Premiership Rugby campaign on Saturday 15 August,” said Premiership chief executive Darren Childs.
“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 1, 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.”