Clubs from English rugby's Premiership have been told they cannot start training for at least two weeks, dealing a blow to hopes of a resumption in July.
Last month it was suggested Premiership clubs were working towards a best-case scenario of the league returning on the weekend of July 3-5 and playing midweek games with the hopes of an August 15 final.
However, Leicester Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy – who will step up to director of rugby in July – suggested teams will first need eight weeks to train.
With the Professional Game Board (PGB) agreeing more time is needed before sessions can safely begin, it appears August is the earliest the season can continue.
Chris Booy, chair of the PGB, said: "A meeting of the Professional Game Board was held which incorporates representatives of the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby, Rugby Players Association and Championship clubs.
"The group agreed that, although a huge amount of work is being undertaken to enable a safe return to training for Premiership clubs, more time was needed to ensure that players, staff and officials can return to a safe training environment, and that is not expected to be in place for a minimum of two weeks.
"Safety and welfare remains of paramount importance to all of us in the rugby community, and we look forward to the season resuming when it is safe to do so.
"Further updates on progress will be made in due course."