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Premiership Rugby statement: Gallagher Premiership round one games

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Premiership Rugby bosses have announced that all six opening round Gallagher Premiership matches this weekend will definitely still go ahead despite the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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The matches scheduled for London Irish, Newcastle and Exeter on Saturday and at Gloucester on Sunday will be staged as originally planned, but the two Friday night games at Bristol and Sale have been postponed. Bristol’s match with Bath has been shifted to Saturday with a 5pm kick-off while Sale versus Northampton in Manchester will have a 3pm start on Sunday.

The Friday lunchtime confirmation as to what would happen put an end to a considerable wait for an announcement to come through. The league in England was due to commence with a bumper 20,000-plus Ashton Gate attendance for Friday night’s west country derby in front of the live TV BT Sport cameras.

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It was shortly after 8am on Friday when the Bears tweeted they were awaiting further news on the status of their high-profile derby and it took four hours for this news to emerge that the match was off and would instead be played a day later.

“We are awaiting guidance regarding tonight’s fixture and will update as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience,” wrote Bristol in a short social message and confirmation eventually arrived at 12:48pm.

Before that Premiership Rugby confirmation, Gloucester were the only club in action on Saturday or Sunday to have named their team as scheduled at Friday noon. They announced they were going to hand a debut to new signing Albert Tuisue at home to Wasps on Sunday off the bench. However, they added: “As a mark of respect for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Kingsholm Stadium will be running a reduced matchday experience.

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“We will also take a moment to reflect on the passing of Her Majesty ahead of kick-off. There will also be reduced coverage across Gloucester Rugby channels during this period.”

When it came, the statement from the league bossed read: “Premiership Rugby is united in paying tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her inspirational life of service and her unparalleled contribution to the United Kingdom.

“Following consultation with the RFU, DCMS and the PRL Board, Premiership Rugby can confirm that as a mark of respect, the two Gallagher Premiership matches scheduled for today will be postponed. Bristol Bears vs Bath Rugby will take place at 5.30pm on Saturday and an update will be given on the Sale Sharks vs Northampton Saints as soon as possible.

“The other matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday will go ahead as scheduled, with Premiership clubs joining with supporters in recognising Queen Elizabeth’s life and service. Prior to the start of each match, a one-minute silent tribute will take place. All players and coaches will be invited to wear black armbands.”

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It emerged later on Friday that an alternative date had been agreed for Sale versus Northampton, with the game now going ahead on Sunday.

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