• February 5, 2023

Premiership: Relegation scrapped for this season amid Covid-19 pandemic

Gloucester is bottom of the table after eight games

The RFU council has canceled relegation from the Premier League this season.

After a “strong majority” vote on Friday, the league will be expanded to 13 teams in the next season, with one side being promoted from the championship.

There will now be a collaboration with the league’s broadcaster, BT Sport, as well as with clubs, sponsors, players and fans, which will happen for the coming seasons.

The RFU said promotion and relegation could be suspended for “three or four seasons” while it reviews the calendar.

It is hoped that changes to the national calendar will give English players additional preparation time in the run-up to the 2023 World Cup.

The RFU said it will also work on new minimum standards both on and off the field that any team promoted from the championship would have to meet.

The RFU Council will vote on new proposals before the end of this campaign.

“We welcome today’s decision and thank the members of the RFU Council for their support,” said Darren Childs, Managing Director of Premiership Rugby.

“The priority for everyone involved was to protect the long-term sustainability and success of English professional rugby for the fans and clubs that have faced major financial and sporting challenges over the past two seasons.”

No championship relegation

BT Sport had raised concerns that losing relegation risk would lessen the drama at the end of the season. However, it is believed that those worries have been removed by the fact that Friday’s decision is for this season only and engagement for future seasons will follow.

The Covid-19 crisis has presented clubs with major financial challenges while a points-based system has been used to decide five games that have been canceled this season due to coronavirus outbreaks. Some argue that a club’s relegation is unfair.

The descent from the championship to National One was also canceled for this campaign, but the championship season was not get started by March 6th.

It means that there will be 11 teams in the second division of England rugby union in 2021-22.

“The RFU Council has taken the time to understand and discuss all the factors that are not relegated to this season so that we can act in the best interests of all levels of the game,” said Jeff Blackett, President of the RFU.

“We want to ensure a healthy elite game to support successful successful English teams that generate revenue to stimulate and maintain the game at all levels.”

“The council will continue to work closely with the proposals of the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship to ensure that we maintain the integrity of the future league structures for England rugby.”

Test reduced

It has also been agreed that the Covid-19 tests will be carried out once a week in the Premiership and Championship starting Monday.

The Professional Game Board (PGB), which agreed to cut it from twice-weekly testing, said it was due to a decrease in coronavirus cases in England and a reduction in the number of positive tests in professional games.

The decision was supported by the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the RPA.

“We started testing twice a week in January to respond to the growing number of cases across the country,” said Chris Booy, chairman of the PGB.

“We have now seen a reduction in positive cases and excellent cooperation between players and support staff who adhere to the strict protocols we have put in place to minimize risk in the training and gaming environment.

“The test system will continue to be closely monitored and any changes will be made with the support of scientific advice.”

Jack

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