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Premiership Rugby and EPCR suspend seasons

Olly Woodburn of Exeter Chiefs dives over to score his side's seventh try during the Premiership match against Bath (by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Premiership Rugby has said it is working on exclusive content to fill the void left by the postponement of its season, with European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) also deciding to suspend the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup campaigns.

Premiership Rugby, the organising body of the top tier of English rugby union, yesterday (Monday) said it will postpone the 2019-20 season for five weeks, in line with the advice of Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming that the government would no longer support mass gatherings amid the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premiership has nine rounds of matches remaining before June’s semi-finals and final, with Exeter Chiefs leading the way after 13 rounds of games. In a statement, Premiership Rugby said it is working together with broadcast partner, pay-television broadcaster BT Sport, to create “exclusive rugby content” in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, EPCR has decided that this season’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final matches will not now be played on the scheduled dates of April 3-5. Amid growing public health concerns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision was taken to postpone the eight matches on the weekend in question and to suspend the European club rugby season.

In a statement, the organisation said: “While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, EPCR, in conjunction with the relevant leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to complete the 2019-20 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments at such a time as that aligns with preventative measures undertaken by an overwhelming majority of sport’s governing bodies and tournament organisers in Europe.”

Premiership Rugby and EPCR’s decisions come after Pro14, the cross-border competition consisting of clubs in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and South Africa, and French rugby’s top division, the Top 14, last week decided to suspend their seasons.