Gallagher Premiership clubs face a wait of at least a fortnight before potentially getting the green light to safely return to training ahead of the desired resumption of the suspended 2019/20 season. They were hopes that clubs would be back in action on the training ground by June 1, but that date is now set to pass without a return following a meeting on Thursday by the league’s professional game board.
In a statement, PGB chair Chris Booy said: “A meeting of the professional game board was held which incorporates representatives of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) Premiership Rugby, Rugby Players Association (RPA) and Championship Clubs.
“The group agreed that although a huge amount of work is being undertaken to enable a safe return to training for Premiership clubs, more time was needed to ensure that players, staff and officials can return to a safe training environment, and that is not expected to be in place for a minimum of two weeks.
“Safety and welfare remain of paramount importance to all of us in the rugby community, and we look forward to the season resuming when it is safe to do so. Further updates on progress will be made in due course.”
RugbyPass had earlier reported how Sale had dismissed claims they had gone rogue and broken ranks with the other Gallagher Premiership clubs by starting to hold collective return-to-play training sessions.
The Sharks were alleged on Monday to have held organised collective training. However, the club’s version of what happened was that their England-based players – most of their South African contingent are still abroad – simply met with the club doctor on Monday and Tuesday for screening.
They were said to be all wearing masks and gloves and undertook fitness testing in a controlled environment. They were then given food to take away and eat.
They believe these precautions more than matched the restrictive demands that will be made when the PGB working group’s guidelines are eventually signed off next month at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Leicester boss Geordan Murphy has claimed players will need a minimum of eight weeks to be ready to play, meaning there would be no matches possible until August at the earliest. “There has to be a slow, graded return,” he told BBC Radio Leicester.
“That would be a minimum of eight weeks, which is what we’re planning. It will be decided though by the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Players Association, so I don’t know where we will end up.”
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