Exeter Chiefs v Bath in Premiership
The Premiership season was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic

Premiership Rugby says protecting “the integrity of the competition” is why clubs will play seven games in four weeks when the league restarts.

The Premiership will resume on 14 August, with Harlequins hosting Sale.

But some clubs will be playing once every four days to finish the season, with three midweek rounds scheduled.

“Every single club is absolutely on board and totally supportive of this schedule,” said Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs.

“The reaction has been very positive. It was very clear early on that we wanted to keep the integrity of the competition, if we could possibly avoid cancelling rounds or awarding points.

“Many other leagues have not taken that choice and have cancelled rounds, but we have been able to find a way to do it safely and that is a great result for the league, clubs and fans.”

The Premiership season was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With nine rounds of matches still to play, as well as the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of both the Heineken Champions and Challenge Cups, a fixture pile-up was inevitable.

The 2020 Premiership final has been arranged for 24 October, with England’s rearranged Six Nations fixture with Italy planned for the weekend after, before a further block of internationals in November.

Premiership Rugby director Phil Winstanley says player welfare will be taken into consideration during the demanding schedule.

“We would rather have not played (midweek) games initially, but working with (the Rugby Football Union’s) Conor O’Shea and (players’ union boss) Damian Hopley for midweek games, we were very proactive in that need to look at how that loading works,” Winstanley said.

“We have engaged with the directors of rugby on how we manage that, whether that’s limiting game time or limiting turnaround time.

“It’s a proactive discussion but we recognise that we need to come up a solution that involves both the RPA and RFU.”

The English clubs have previously been critical of the demands on players when on international duty, especially with regards the British and Irish Lions, leaving them now open to being accused of double standards.

“I don’t think so. It’s really important that we maintain that position,” Winstanley responded.

“We don’t want to have back-to-back games, which is why we need to manage it properly.

“In the past week we have been quite critical of the Lions, [with us] not wanting to play four-day turnarounds, and the same should apply to us. We have sat down with Damian and Conor and want to manage that correctly for the benefit of the players.”

First fixtures of revised schedule confirmed

The first four rounds of fixtures for the Premiership’s restart have been announced, with second-placed Sale in action on the opening night.

Leaders Exeter host Leicester on Saturday, 15 August.

Tigers are second from bottom but are not in danger of going down, as Saracens have already been relegated because of salary cap breaches.

Friday 14 August

Saturday 15 August

  • Bath v London Irish
  • Bristol v Saracens
  • Exeter v Leicester
  • Worcester v Gloucester

Sunday 16 August

Friday 21 August

  • Gloucester v Bristol
  • Sale v Exeter
  • Wasps v Worcester

Saturday 22 August

  • Leicester v Bath
  • London Irish v Northampton
  • Saracens v Harlequins

Tuesday 25 August

  • Bristol v Exeter
  • Wasps v Sale

Wednesday 26 August

  • Leicester v London Irish
  • Northampton v Bath
  • Saracens v Gloucester
  • Worcester v Harlequins

Saturday 29 August

Sunday 30 August

  • Exeter v Worcester
  • Gloucester v Leicester
  • Harlequins v Northampton
  • London Irish v Saracens

Monday 31 August

boiler repairs redbridge

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