Ben Youngs has called for clear and sensible structuring from Premiership Rugby to protect players. The England scrum-half accepts there may be minimal turnaround between the conclusion of this season and the start of the next one due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he has warned that squeezing in midweek games to shorten the current backlog would be unacceptable.
The 2019/20 campaign has been indefinitely suspended because of the virus outbreak, but Premiership Rugby remain committed to playing the season to its conclusion. Nine regular-season rounds remain, while officials are considering whether to push back the Twickenham final – initially scheduled for June 20 – to late summer, a decision that could have knock-on repercussions for 2020/21.
Youngs told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There is a good possibility that we will finish the season and two weeks later could be potentially starting the new season but if that’s what needs to happen then that’s what needs to happen. As players, you’ve just got to adapt to that and be ready. But we obviously have the concussion rate in rugby which has been a hot topic for a while now.
“There’s no way that we could be playing two games a week. It just wouldn’t work, we haven’t got the squad size to be able to do that, you’d be putting the players at risk. Whether things have to get shifted about, whether potentially Europe’s not played, whether the Premiership Rugby Cup’s not played, I’m not quite sure.
“But there has to be an element where we get the season finished and the next season may start early, but there has to be changes within the schedule to allow people to physically and mentally freshen up. Otherwise, if you’re going week-in, week-out you’re going to end up with a very depleted squad by the end of it.”
The postponement of the Six Nations has delayed Youngs, a central figure in England’s run to last year’s World Cup final, from collecting his 100th international cap. The 30-year-old would have almost certainly taken the No9 shirt against Italy in the final round but he remains stuck on 99 appearances.
He added: “I feel very fortunate to have done it this many times, but I’ve still got the desire and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to get one more.”
– Press Association
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