Exeter boss Rob Baxter wants English rugby authorities to finish the Gallagher Premiership 2019/20 season – but only when social distancing measures are eased for everyone and not just sport. The Chiefs were sitting on top of the table before the season’s indefinite suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and there are currently plans to have the league’s dozen teams back in training by June 1 with a view to restarting matches towards the end of that month or in early July.
Fifty-seven matches remain to be played – nine rounds of regular-season games along with semi-finals and final – but Baxter is wary of rushing the sport back into action, suggesting that rugby anyway can’t afford the costs associated with some of the potential plans for a return.
“Things that are being thrown out there at the moment as possibilities,” said the Exeter coach in an interview with the UK Telegraph. “I don’t think a long-term isolation camp will work for Premiership teams because no one could afford it.
“Which Premiership team could afford to go into an eight-or-nine week camp with everything being paid for in a hotel? When you look at where the clubs are talking about where they stand financially, what are the costs of putting twelve clubs together?
“It is not like a football team – you are talking about a minimum of 36 players plus support staff, so around 60 people per club, you are getting towards a 1,000 people. Where is the finance for that for eight weeks of three or four meals a day?
“You would also need five or six training venues. I could be completely wrong, someone could step forward and say it is financially viable but I can’t see it myself. We aren’t football. I could see football potentially making it financially viable but I can’t see professional rugby making it viable. It would cost us more than we could get back.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now