Premiership, Championship clubs get green light to restart training

Premiership Rugby has been given the green light to return to small group training. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

England's Gallagher Premiership and second-tier Championship clubs have been given the green light to resume individual training from Tuesday with strict social distancing measures, the Professional Game Board announced.

Competitive sport has been suspended in the UK since March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 39,000 people.

The government last week gave permission for elite sport to return behind closed doors from June 1 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 1: 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 1 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 2, which involves contact training, or Stage 3, 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, Premiership Rugby announced on Tuesday that clubs are unanimous in their support of the independent Myners Report that recommended stronger regulations to restore the integrity of the salary cap system.

The review was carried out by former government minister and member of Britain's House of Lords Paul Myners on behalf of the Premiership after defending champions Saracens were found to have breached salary cap rules for three seasons.

Saracens, winners of four Premiership titles in the past five years, were sanctioned for spending above the league's £7 million salary cap, docked points and will be relegated from the top flight this season.

Myners had recommended that teams that breach salary cap rules in the future should be stripped of their titles while other sporting sanctions included relegation, suspension and return of prize money won in the breaching seasons.

"All 13 Premiership Rugby clubs have united to support the recommendations and agreed to move to the next stage of developing these recommendations into detailed regulation," Premiership Rugby said in a statement.

The next stage involves further consultation with clubs, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Players' Association (RPA) before the regulations are presented to the Premiership Rugby board for approval.

Myners had warned in his 55-page review that the recommendations must be viewed as a "package of measures" and not as a "menu of options" to cherry-pick from.

"It's a credit to our clubs that they have acted so quickly to support these recommendations and take the Premiership Rugby salary cap into a new era," Premiership Rugby's chief executive Darren Childs said.

"The next stage is for us to consult with our clubs, RFU and RPA and to enshrine these new regulations for the start of the 2020-21 season."