Sale have dismissed claims they have 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.

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However, RugbyPass understands what happened was that Sale’s 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.

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As it stands, there is currently no set return-to-train date for the league’s twelve clubs. A meeting of the key professional game board working group – which involves the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players Association – had been held this week.

It failed to agree on a date when English rugby’s top-flight players could begin the month-long training required to get them ready for the resumption of the suspended league season which still has nine rounds and playoffs – a total of 57 matches – to complete.

Simon Kemp, the RFU’s medical services director, has been leading the PGB working group which is devising return-to-play measures and at least one Premiership club is preparing for the green light to be given for a return to training following those strict guidelines by the end of next week. 

Two other leading Premiership clubs also confirmed to RugbyPass on Thursday that they are expecting to start training in the week beginning June 1.

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Currently in second place behind Exeter on the table, Sale insisted they are waiting – along with the other Premiership clubs – for official clearance to start their return-to-play training schedule.

They believe the precautions they used at the start of this week more than matched the restrictive demands that will be made when the PGB working group’s guidelines are officially signed off.

A meeting of Premiership Rugby is taking place on Thursday to review the working group’s position on return-to-play. The ramifications of the Lord Myners report’s 52 salary cap recommendations will also be discussed.

Meanwhile, a meeting of club owners was also held on Wednesday as the sport continues to try to navigate a route through the restrictions still in place to deal with Covid-19 and the government guidelines that have to be taken into consideration for any rugby restart. 

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