Premiership Rugby resists calls to bring fixtures forward as league takes two-week break

Premiership Rugby has resisted calls to bring fixtures forward to fill the void left by the suspension of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions.

By Tom Vickers
Monday, 11th January 2021, 8:24 pm
There will be no Premiership action on the next two weekends
There will be no Premiership action on the next two weekends

Instead, England's top division will take a two-week break, which means Saints, who have not played since beating Worcester Warriors on Boxing Day, will go more than a month without a game.

The black, green and gold have seen their past two league fixtures cancelled due to Covid-19 cases, firstly at London Irish and then at Franklin's Gardens ahead of last Saturday's scheduled clash with Leicester Tigers.

Saints were due to host Leinster in the Champions Cup on Friday before travelling to Bordeaux eight days later.

But with those games off, some supporters had hoped to watch their team in action - on the television as matches remain behind closed doors - in the Premiership.

Bosses of other clubs such as Pat Lam at Bristol Bears and Rob Baxter at Exeter Chiefs had publicly stated they felt it would be a good idea to bring league fixtures forward to take place over the next two weekends.

Baxter said after his side's defeat to Bristol on Saturday: "I would like to think they will move positively and quickly and bring Premiership games forward.

“If we are going to play European games, we’ve got to create space somewhere. The only way to do that is to shift Premiership games.”

And Lam, after the same game, said: "What we would be very keen to say is that it is a massive opportunity for the Premiership as a competition to bring everything forward.

“We are all prepared to play. If they are going to postpone it, they are going to have to find two weekends.

“What we have learnt from last season is it is a massive toll to get the players to play midweek games, and we don’t want to go down there again.

“If we play now and bring it forward, it is going to open up those weeks (later in the season). It is a massive opportunity for the Premiership to say ‘let’s go’.

“Play Europe, but if it is postponed, bring everything forward and let’s get going.”

Moving league fixtures forward would have allowed Premiership clubs to field players who they would lose to the Six Nations, if it is played, in the weeks ahead.

But Premiership Rugby released a statement on Monday evening confirming that a two-week break will now take place.

Premiership Rugby CEO Darren Childs said: "The welfare of everyone involved in Premiership Rugby is crucial to us and this break in the season gives us the chance to hand some much-needed rest to our hard-working players, management, staff and match officials.

"The Gallagher Premiership Rugby season will return - as scheduled - on Friday, January 29 when Bristol Bears host Bath Rugby live on BT Sport."