Gallagher Premiership set to be suspended due to coronavirus concerns

Daniel Du Preez: Sale ace scores a try in the Gallagher Premiership win over Wasps

The Gallagher Premiership has been suspended for at least five weeks, Premiership Rugby has announced.

The move, which comes in the wake of government advice to avoid mass gatherings, will cover four rounds of Premiership games and European quarter-finals scheduled for April 3-5.

A Premiership Rugby statement said: "We are sorry to tell our fans that we will be postponing our season for five weeks, in line with today's advice of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which confirmed that the Government would no longer support mass gatherings.

"The safety of our fans and staff is our first priority, and we would like to wish all of those who are affected our heartfelt best wishes and a very speedy recovery."

European competitions also put back

The Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-finals, which were due to take place from April 3-5, have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Making the announcement on Monday, European Professional Club Rugby confirmed the European club rugby season had been suspended.

An EPCR statement read: "The Board of European Professional Club Rugby has decided that this season's Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final matches will not now be played on the scheduled dates of 3/4/5 April.

"Amid growing public health concerns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision was taken during a conference call today to postpone the eight matches on the weekend in question and to suspend the European club rugby season.

"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.

"EPCR's priority is the health and welfare of players and club staff, and an update regarding the knockout stages of the tournaments will be communicated to all stakeholders as soon as practicable."

All rugby suspended in UK

The Rugby Football Union has suspended all rugby activities in England until April 14.

The RFU's decision came shortly after Premiership Rugby suspended top-flight Gallagher Premiership for at least five weeks.

An RFU statement read: "Following Government advice today, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) will suspend all rugby activity in England, at both professional and community level, including club training, league and cup matches plus rugby education courses from 17 March until 14 April subject to continued review.

"The decision has been taken following Government advice in the interests of players, coaches, referees, volunteers, supporters and the wider rugby union community.

"Where possible, players at all levels are encouraged to maintain their own personal fitness and keep active during this time, while following Government guidelines about safe distance and safe exercise environments.

"The RFU will continue to review and monitor Government advice and will provide detailed updates on the impact to the season in the coming weeks."

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