English club rugby is targeting a July restart to the suspended Gallagher Premiership season with plans for teams to play two games a week – but Twickenham is not expected to be the sole stadium used for the 57 remaining fixtures.
RugbyPass understands that the consensus among the Premiership clubs is that a July start following the coronavirus pandemic stoppage would allow the showpiece final to be held on August 15, but this requires the lifting of social distancing measures to allow the games to be rearranged.
One leading Premiership player confirmed that July is central to the discussions currently taking place but denied that Twickenham is the only venue being considered to host matches.
A newspaper report had claimed that English Rugby HQ would stage all the remaining games as the stadium’s adjacent Marriott hotel was seen as a perfect way to keep the players safe in a controlled environment.
Saracens performance director Phil Morrow told RugbyPass last week that it will take Premiership players a month to regain the required fitness to be ready for the resumption of fixtures.
The Premiership still needs to complete nine rounds of matches as well as two semi-finals and a final, and Morrow’s restart prediction would mean the month of June being used to get the players up to speed if restrictions are lifted to ensure squads are ready to each play two matches a week in July.
This timeline ties into the RugbyPass report that revealed Sale have asked their South African players currently hunkered down in their home country – including Faf de Klerk and the three du Preez brothers Rob, Dan and Jean-Luc – to return to England in the middle of next month.
Meanwhile, the Rugby Players’ Association have reportedly written to its 800 members outlining the five stages of rugby’s return, “all of which will be driven by government policy”. It will begin with individual training and then collective team training.
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