Rugby union and league suspended for five weeks due to coronavirus pandemic

Sports Staff
The Independent

Rugby union and league have both announced their respective seasons have been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.

Premiership Rugby has postponed all its fixtures for five weeks, the announcement coming barely an hour after the Betfred Super League was suspended for the next fortnight.

A Premiership Rugby statement said: “We are sorry to tell our fans that we will be postponing our season for five weeks, in line with today’s advice of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which confirmed that the Government would no longer support mass gatherings.

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“The safety of our fans and staff is our first priority, and we would like to wish all of those who are affected our heartfelt best wishes and a very speedy recovery.

“We’ll continue to work closely with DCMS (The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and Public Health England, and to follow the advice of medical experts, and work with our clubs to help them to support their own wider communities at this time.”

Premiership Rugby has been suspended until April 24-26, meaning four rounds of fixtures have been affected.

The organisation added it was working with broadcast partner BT Sport to “create exclusive rugby content in the coming weeks”.

The Rugby Football Union said “all rugby activity in England, at both professional and community level, including club training” had been suspended until 14 April.

Premiership Rugby has suspended the competition for at least five weeks (Getty)
Premiership Rugby has suspended the competition for at least five weeks (Getty)

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said rugby league had bowed to the inevitable, with the Championship, League One, Women’s Super League and community games all also affected.

Matches in both the Super League and the Coral Challenge Cup were played at the weekend when most sport was moth-balled as the Rugby Football League closely stuck to Government guidelines.

However, Monday’s advice prompted a change of policy, with RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer saying: “Following the latest Government announcement, fixtures for the entire game will be suspended up until April 3.”

The RFL announcement was made in conjunction with Super League following a six-hour meeting of clubs in Huddersfield.

Elstone told reporters: “Super League clearly recognise the gravity of the situation. We’re very mindful of our responsibility to our community, to our fans and to our players and the way the decision felt inevitable.

“Now is a period of time where we look closely at the implications and our options. It’s a very fluid process, where it’s going to change certainly day to day if not more frequently.

“We just have to be nimble and flexible, most importantly us and the RFL need to be very closely joined in what it means in terms of fixtures and what it means in terms of finance and how we come out of this in as healthy a position as we can.”

PA

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