As revealed by RugbyPass on Thursday, the suspended Gallagher Premiership season will swing back into action on August 14 with Harlequins hosting Sale Sharks into a live TV showdown in London. The match will bridge a 159-day gap in between matches in the league as the last game played before the coronavirus stoppage was the meeting of Bristol and Harlequins at Ashton Gate on March 8.
Before Gallagher Premiership Rugby was suspended, Sale were one of the form teams, only losing one out of their last six matches, while Harlequins have lost just once to the Sharks at the Twickenham Stoop in Premiership Rugby since 2008.
Following the opener in west London, there will be four matches on Saturday, August 15 – at Bath, Worcester Warriors, Bristol Bears and leaders Exeter Chiefs – before the weekend ends at Franklin’s Gardens where Northampton Saints face Wasps.
Announcing the dates and times for the first four rounds of Gallagher Premiership matches, which takes us to the end of August, tournament CEO Darren Childs said: “With just over a month to go, we are delighted to be on track to bring rugby back to fans and see our players out in the competition.
“The good news I can bring is that the Gallagher Premiership will be back a little earlier than we previously announced with the first game scheduled on August 14. I must thank all of our players, clubs, partners, the RFU and RPA who have all supported us on this journey, and we are now cautiously optimistic for a safe return to the season.”
This would be brilliant!https://t.co/wxHlYGfmcs
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 9, 2020
Harlequins boss Paul Gustard said: “We are delighted to be the first club back hosting a fixture as the Gallagher Premiership recommences. It has, of course, been an unprecedented time – the global impact of Covid-19 has been seismic.
“We are all excited to have the opportunity to represent the club and look to push on in the second half of the season. It is brilliant that we get to run out at The Stoop once more. We are hugely thankful for the goodwill of our owners, the support of the board and the continued generosity of our amazing supporters.
“We also recognise and are grateful for all the hard work undergone by the game’s key stakeholders. They have played significant roles in getting us back out on the field from – the lengthy work of Premiership Rugby, the RFU, BT and Gallagher to namecheck just a few.”
Sale boss Steve Diamond added: “It’s fantastic that we have the opportunity to return to play after such a long lay-off. Everyone across the league is chomping at the bit to get going again.
“It’s been a turbulent period for everyone but as a club, we feel we have come out of the other end of this period stronger than ever. We have a top bunch of players here and all the lads have put their hands up and worked hard for the club during our return to play preparations. We are ready and raring to go.”
Premiership Rugby also confirmed that the Premiership final 2020 will take place on Saturday, October 24.
Friday, August 14: Harlequins v Sale
Saturday, August 15: Exeter v Leicester, Bath v London Irish, Worcester v Gloucester, Bristol v Saracens
Sunday, August 16: Northampton v Wasps
Friday, August 21: Sale v Exeter, Gloucester v Bristol, Wasps v Worcester
Saturday, August 22: Saracens v Harlequins, London Irish v Northampton, Leicester v Bath
Tuesday, August 25: Wasps v Sale, Bristol v Exeter
Wednesday, August 26: Saracens v Gloucester, Worcester v Harlequins, Northampton v Bath, Leicester v London Irish
Saturday, August 29: Sale v Bristol
Sunday, August 30: Harlequins v Northampton, Exeter v Worcester, London Irish v Saracens, Gloucester v Leicester, Bath v Wasps
Incredible contribution by the Tuilagi family ?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 10, 2020
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