LONDON (Reuters) – England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) on Friday confirmed the end of the 2019-20 season for all league, cup and county rugby in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic but the Premiership has been excluded.
The RFU earlier this week suspended all rugby activity until April 14 while the Premiership halted the season for five weeks after the British government advised against mass gatherings that required the presence of emergency workers.
“The decision to confirm the end of the season was taken to assist with long term planning and provide clarity to the game at a time of continuous change,” the RFU said in a statement.
RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said they were working on the ramifications of ending the season early and would announce their decisions next month.
“We… have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game,” he said.
“We will communicate these outcomes by the middle of April. While we would like to provide all the answers now, we need some time to get it right for the best interests of the game.”
The RFU said it was in discussions with the Premiership to review the next possible steps after the outbreak brought world sport to a standstill.
Exeter Chiefs top the Premiership standings with 45 points after 13 games, five ahead of Sale Sharks with Bristol Bears third a further two points behind.
This year’s Six Nations Championship was hit by the coronavirus with four matches called off and no dates have been set for completing the tournament.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 245,000 people and over 10,000 have died. The United Kingdom has over 3,200 cases with 144 deaths.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond