English rugby clubs set to begin non-contact training

French Top 14 season has been officially abandoned amid the Covid-19 crisis

 Top-flight rugby union clubs in England could return to training this week. Photograph: PA

Top-flight rugby union clubs in England could return to training this week. Photograph: PA

 

Clubs in England’s Premiership and second-tier Championship have been given the green light to resume individual training from Tuesday with strict social distancing measures, the Professional Game Board said.

Competitive sport was suspended in Britain in March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which has killed more than 39,000 people in the country.

The UK government last week gave permission for elite sport to return behind closed doors from June 1st and the Premiership, which has nine rounds remaining, is hoping to complete its season.

“I can confirm that the Professional Game Board ... has given provisional authorisation for Premiership and Championship Rugby clubs to move to stage one: elite sport return to training guidance,” Chris Booy, Professional Game Board Chair, said in a statement.

“The clubs will need to satisfy a number of requirements to start stage one as we continue the huge amount of work being undertaken to enable a safe return to training.”

No timeline has been set for clubs to move to stage two, which involves contact training, or stage three, the resumption of Premiership matches.

Exeter Chiefs were top of the standings with 45 points when the season was suspended, five ahead of Sale Sharks.

Meanwhile the French Top 14 season has been officially abandoned and no champions will be named, the French rugby league (LNR) said on Tuesday.

The LNR added that no club would be relegated and no team would be promoted from the Pro D2, the second division in the country.

The decision had been widely expected since the LNR and the club presidents reached an agreement on April 30th to call off the campaign.

The LNR said in a statement that the board of directors had adopted a resolution calling for the abandonment of the Top 14 and Pro D2 championships.

It added that the European qualifying spots would be attributed “once the ECPR (European Professional Club Rugby) will have confirmed the format of competition applicable in 2020-21”.

The standings that will be taken into account are those of the day of the 17th round of the matches, with Union Bordeaux Begles on top with 61 points ahead of Lyon (53), Racing 92 (46) and RC Toulon (45).

Finishing the season with no spectators was never an option for the LNR as most of its clubs’ income is from ticket sales and hospitality services at the stadiums.

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