<
>

Premiership Rugby suspended indefinitely due to coronavirus

Premiership Rugby has announced that the league has been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The Gallagher Premiership has been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers said on Wednesday.

The league was originally scheduled to restart on April 24 but it has been announced that it will not resume until safe to do so.

Coronavirus: Postponements and cancellations in sport

"Following a series of constructive meetings with our clubs, investors, players' representatives, commercial and broadcast partners, and the RFU, we have agreed on our approach to restart rugby, as soon as it is safe to do so," Gallagher Premiership CEO Darren Childs said in a statement.

"This is not an easy conversation. We are dealing with a catastrophic pandemic that is unprecedented in our lifetimes, the effects of which are heartbreaking and devastating. We also must recognise that when the pandemic is finally at an end; there will still be the economic challenge for many years to come. The markets and businesses that people rely upon are not immune to this virus.

"Many livelihoods are built on professional sport and Premiership Rugby is proud to be home to many of the world's greatest players. But the livelihoods are not just those of talented players, there are many vital roles across the clubs: from academy teams to medics, canteen staff to groundspeople.

"So, I'm proud of how our clubs, staff and players have pulled together to make swift and dignified decisions to preserve the sustainability of their independent businesses in order to sustain the challenges ahead."

It was also announced that the Premiership Rugby final will be rescheduled later this year with all tickets valid for the unconfirmed date.

The final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins was postponed last month after one of the club's employees showed coronavirus symptoms, despite the organisers insisting that the game was going ahead hours prior to the announcement.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions were also postponed indefinitely last month due to the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Wales' top rugby players will take a 25% pay cut after the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players' Association (WRPA) to reduce salaries during the coronavirus crisis.

The PRB, which represents the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four professional regional teams -- Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets -- said the cut will not apply to players who earn less than £25,000 per year.

The salary reduction will be effective from April 1 and will run for three months as the sport grapples with the financial impact of the pandemic, which forced the WRU to cancel the season in the country.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.