Following the announcement of the key welfare and calendar changes to the English domestic game, Premiership Rugby chief Mark McCafferty told RugbyPass how the next few Gallagher Premiership seasons will work.
The changes mean that the English domestic season 2019/20 will commence with the Premiership Cup on September 21st with the Gallagher Premiership beginning on October 20th as McCafferty explains.
“In a Rugby World Cup year, we’re starting a month later at least for the primary competition, the Gallagher Premiership, starting during the knock-out stages of the World Cup and it goes on a little bit later, finishing later in June,” said McCafferty. “As a result of starting the Gallagher Premiership later, the gap between the Final at the end of this season in 18/19 and the start of the Premiership is a long period of time, perhaps longer than most players would want.
“Therefore we don’t necessarily need to give as many rest weeks during the course of the season.”
Going into the 2020/21 season which culminates in the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, the season will start on the weekend of September 12th and is scheduled to finish on 26th June. McCafferty explains that it’s not all signed and sealed as far as the Lions tour is concerned.
He explained, “It’s a five week tour to South Africa, eight matches and that was agreed some time ago. We are in some discussions with them about the whole preparation for that tour and I’m glad to say that the Lions are engaging more on that front than perhaps they have done historically, which has been one of our complaints.
“But it’s early days in that process. We’ve set out the season structure and we’ll now sit down and work with them about how they need to prepare for that Lions tour and they are preparing much further in advance than perhaps that have done previously.”
The player welfare measures will mean that English players on the Lions tour will follow the tour with a mandatory ten week rest period, which would see them missing the start of the 2021/22 season which will commence on 18th September, coming back in line to play around the middle of the October. Any of those England players selected to play in the 2021 November internationals would be given a rest week during those matches.
The Gallagher Premiership finals will be pushing later into June across all seasons from 2019/20 onwards, an element McCafferty is excited by.
“Anybody who’s witnessed the Premiership final in the last few years, which has taken place in typically very good weather [with a] hard fast track at Twickenham, etc – it’s hard to argue that that isn’t a very, very attractive time of year to be playing in and with more end of season showpiece games taking place at that time of the year, I think the public will love it.”
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