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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 16 May 2021

IRFU bins plans to bring Irish provinces back into training next week

The Irish union will update players again next month, subject to government directives.

THE IRFU HAS confirmed that the four Irish provinces will not return to collective training next Monday 18 May, as had originally been hoped.

Professional players will instead continue to train from home until June at least, when the IRFU will contact them again to provide an update that is based on Irish government directives.

a-view-of-the-aviva-stadium The Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The government’s roadmap for a reopening of society and business listed rugby under phase five of the easing of restrictions, which could potentially mean a return for the sport from 10 August, although that scenario remains highly uncertain.

As such, the IRFU’s previous plan to bring players back into their provincial training centres in small groups with social distancing from next week have been binned, meaning players will be required to continue their own training sessions remotely.

Irish players and all IRFU staff are currently on a pay deferral scheme of between 10 and 50%, with the biggest earners taking the heftiest hit.

The IRFU hopes to eventually get some form of inter-provincial competition up and running on Irish soil but it remains unclear when the players will even be back training together.

Ireland had been due to go on a two-Test tour of Australia in July and while that tour has not officially been cancelled yet, it will not be going ahead.

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Indeed, there are doubts about Ireland’s November Tests against Japan, South Africa, and Australia going ahead.

Leinster and Ulster, meanwhile, are still due to play in the postponed Champions Cup quarter-finals, with organising body EPCR insisting that it will do to reschedule those knock-out ties, potentially in September and October of this year.

The Pro14 also remains suspended, with organisers hoping to have some form of conclusion to the 2019/20 campaign.

The IRFU has already suffered a financial hit from the postponement of Ireland’s home Six Nations tie against Italy and will be keen for international rugby to return as soon as possible in order to recoup the lost revenues.

However, it still remains unclear when Irish players will even be back training together.

The players themselves must wait until next month to learn more.

“The IRFU has confirmed to players that they will not be returning to training on May 18th and that we will contact them in June with further information, based on government guidelines,” read a brief IRFU statement this evening.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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