Premiership: 15 August targeted for resumption of season

Bristol beat Harlequins 28-15 in the last Premiership match completed in March

Premiership Rugby hopes to resume the 2019-20 season on Saturday, 15 August.

There have been no matches played since 8 March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but clubs have been cleared to start non-contact training.

Exeter are five points clear of Sale at the top of the table, with Bristol and Northampton Saints third and fourth.

“It is important for us to give players, coaches and clubs clarity on when they can look to return,” said Premiership chief Darren Childs.

“Nothing will happen until it is safe to do so but we will do everything we can to resume the 2019-20 Gallagher Premiership Rugby campaign on Saturday, 15 August.”

No decision has yet been taken on whether games will be played behind closed doors, but the Premiership say the structure and format for the rest of the campaign “will follow in due course”.

There are nine games still to play for each team in the regular season, but there is no relegation issue with Saracens already set to play in the Championship next season as punishment for salary cap breaches.

Bath chief executive Tarquin McDonald described the Premiership announcement as “hugely positive” and said everyone was “desperate to get back and play”.

He added: “We welcome this news and crucially can now set timeframes in order to maximise our athletes’ readiness for a return to competition when that time comes in August.”

All levels of the game below the top flight have seen their seasons cancelled, with Newcastle Falcons, who were leading the Championship, confirmed as being promoted to the Premiership for 2020-21.

Non-contact training must be done in small groups, with each person at least two metres apart.

Premier League football clubs have since moved into stage two, which allows contact training in larger groups.

It is not known when Premiership clubs will be able to move to stage two.

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