RFU announce in-season breaks and 35-match cap for players under new domestic structure from 2019-20 in bid to address issue of player welfare
- Players will have guaranteed in-season breaks in new structure from 2019-20
- The changes also include a maximum 35 match involvements in a season
- A mandatory five-week post-season rest for all players will also be introduced
- Gallagher Premiership will end in late June and summer tours will start in July
Rugby will be played over an 11-month season for the next four years, as key stakeholders agreed a new-look domestic calendar.
Only in August of 2020, 2021 and 2022 as well as July 2023 would there be no northern hemisphere matches at all – as rugby stretches throughout the year.
The Rugby Football Union, Rugby Players’ Association and Premiership Rugby announced their plans for a tweaked setup today, which will come into effect after the 2019 World Cup.
The RFU has announced players will get an in-season break and have a cap of 35 matches
Among the key elements confirmed were:
- The British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 will consist of eight matches over five weeks, with no extra training-week before the trip for English players.
- England’s summer Tests will be played in the first three weeks of July. In 2020 they will play two Tests against Japan, with heavily rotated squad featuring very few World Cup squad members. In 2021 they will also play two Tests abroad, but will play three in 2022.
- England’s autumn Tests will be played in the first three weeks of November – similar to the current setup
- Premiership Rugby finals will now always be played in June, with seasons still starting in September.
- The 2019-20 Premiership Rugby season will start during the World Cup quarter-finals, on October 20 2019, as the Premiership Rugby Cup will be played for the first four weeks of that season from September 21 2019.
Written into the agreement is guaranteed in-season breaks for players, and a mandatory five-week rest period between seasons – although only two weeks of that will be full feet-up rest, with three of ‘active rest’, as Sportsmail reported last month.
Although there is no prospect of any individual player being active across every of the month of the season, concerns have been raised over the sport’s ability to maintain interest levels throughout virtually the entire calendar year.
PRL chief executive Mark McCafferty believes the domestic game will benefit, however.
Premiership Rugby chief Mark McCafferty said new structure achieved ‘a number of goals’
‘We’ve always held a view that the more rugby that’s played in better conditions and better weather – after the Six Nations – the better,’ McCafferty said.
‘That was one of the views that we carried into San Francisco. It was then a question of how do we marry that up with the player welfare angles.
‘It’s always been the case that the stronger attendances and stronger audiences that we get are towards the business end of the season, but that’s part of it is also because you’ve got the firmer grounds, the better weather etc.
‘Hopefully it works on a number of fronts, but there’s lots still to learn in the next three years.
‘This is going to continue to evolve because we’re always going to try and strike that balance between the commercial and welfare side.’
A feature of the new structure is a reduction in the number of overlapping club and international games.
Source: Read Full Article