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RFU cancels entire English rugby season apart from the Premiership

The union says it remains in ‘active discussions’ with the top-tier league.

THE RFU HAS announced that the remainder of the 2019/20 season in England has been cancelled.

The only exception is the top-tier Gallagher Premiership, whose clubs remain in “active discussions” with the RFU.

All other league, cup and county rugby in England has been cancelled with immediate effect, including the second-tier Greene King IPA Championship, due to concerns over the spread of Covid-19.

saracens-v-london-irish-gallagher-premiership-allianz-arena The English rugby season is over, apart from the Premiership. Source: PA

The RFU has announced that it will work through the implications of this decision – including promotions and relegations – to ensure “fair and balanced outcomes,” which the union promises to communicate by mid-April.

Earlier this week, the Gallagher Premiership was suspended until 14 April.

In a statement today, the RFU said that the public’s welfare is their primary focus, while the union also underlined that it is financially “exposed”  due to the widespread cancellation of games and events.

The RFU said it had already budgeted for a loss-making year due to the 2019 World Cup costs, but stressed that the loss “will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the entire country.”

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Adding that there may be “longer-term financial implications,” the union said it has already undertaken measures “to safeguard the business.”

“My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by Covid-19 as well as recent flooding events, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community,” said RFU CEO, Bill Sweeney. 

“In order to provide clarity and to assist with immediate and longer-term planning, the Rugby Football Union is announcing the end of the 2019/20 rugby season for all league, cup and county rugby in England.  The only exception to this is the Gallagher Premiership, who we are in active discussions with to review possible best next steps.

northampton-saints-v-saracens-gallagher-premiership-franklins-gardens A sign notifying visitors about Covid-19 at Franklin's Gardens in Northampton. Source: EMPICS Sport

“When current government advice on social distancing measures changes, we will naturally encourage rugby training and friendlies to recommence.  

“I would like to personally thank everyone for their swift actions in suspending rugby activity, this is not an easy time and I know many of you will have concerns that go beyond the game.

“We are working through the implications of ending the season early and have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game. We will communicate these outcomes by the middle of April.

“While we would like to provide all the answers now, we need some time to get it right for the best interests of the game. Rest assured we are working on this as a priority and we will continue to send weekly updates to clubs.”

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Murray Kinsella

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