English rugby top clubs could be given the green light on Wednesday to start training again – something Sale Sharks have already done after breaking ranks with their Premiership rivals. Second in the 2019/20 table behind Exeter, Sale are remaining tight-lipped over what they have actually asked their players to do since Monday
However, it is understood that the other eleven Premiership clubs are waiting for Wednesday’s key professional game board working group meeting – which involves the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players Association – before deciding on their response.
Simon Kemp, the RFU’s medical services director, has been leading the PGB working group which is devising return-to-play measures. They could be finalised and a start date for training agreed at the midweek virtual meeting. Government advice is also central to the working group’s deliberations.
That professional game board meeting will be followed later on Wednesday by a meeting of Premiership club owners who will surely be asking Simon Orange – whose millions have allowed Sale Sharks to bring in a host of South African players – to explain why his Manchester-based club have already started limited training sessions.
The current situation was described by a leading official to RugbyPass as a “shambles” with Premiership Rugby’s leadership – or lack of it – over the issue of when clubs can start the complicated return to play protocols central to this smouldering discontent.
Last week’s publication of the Lord Myners report and its far-reaching suggestions to clean up the Premiership’s salary cap financial mess following Saracens’ relegation has deflected attention from the medical deliberations, but they will be back at the top of the agenda on Wednesday.
The owners’ meeting is also the first chance for Lord Myners’ 52 recommendations to be discussed by the people who hold the purse strings for professional club rugby in England.
They have to decide if all of the changes put forward are going to be accepted or if cherry-picking is to take place.
“It is important that my recommendations should be viewed as a package of measures which, if taken together, will go a long way to restoring the integrity of the regulations,” wrote Myners. “They should not be viewed as a menu of options from which to pick and choose.”
Myners put forward a series of recommendations that include stripping guilty clubs of titles and prize money, ending the marquee player system and demanding that players produce tax returns or bank statements if any breach of regulation is suspected.
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