Falcons back on the agenda for Saints

Saints are set to square up to Newcastle Falcons again next season after the north-east club's return to the Gallagher Premiership was confirmed.

Saints will take on Newcastle again next season
Saints will take on Newcastle again next season

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) council has agreed to conclude the Greene King IPA Championship season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Newcastle led the league by 18 points from Ealing Trailfinders when competition was forced to stop due to the outbreak.

Saracens have already accepted relegation from the Premiership due to breaches of the salary cap regulations.

The RFU said that the final standings for the 2019-20 Championship and also the men's and women's community game would be calculated on a best playing record formula.

The organisation's president, Peter Wheeler, said: "We believe that the decisions made provide fair and balanced outcomes for the game and maintain the integrity of the competitions.

"We have listened to recommendations from the heart of the game and the approach has been ratified by the RFU Council.

"This has been a difficult decision to make in the most unprecedented of circumstances. There is no single solution that will suit every club, but the approach taken is one that we believe best reflects the nature of league rugby in England.

"With 80 per cent of the season complete for the community game, we believe our approach is fair and the right one for our leagues. We have clubs that are clear league leaders and those who have said they would benefit from relegation to play more meaningful rugby."

The RFU said the final tables will be published by 6pm on Friday.

RFU chief Bill Sweeney said: "The season stopped on March 14 and that represented about 80 per cent of the games being played.

"We felt the most fair and reasonable way to approach this now was to apply a pretty simple formula in terms of away and home record and apply that to the balance of games outstanding - and then when the season is closed off, be able to announce promotion and relegation.

"We did consult with the game. The overwhelming response back from the game was they they had a preference to go that way."

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