Premiership clubs cleared to resume contact training

This is the eighth straight year that concussion has been the top injury sustained by rugby players in England. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

English Premiership clubs will take another step towards a restart after the players were permitted to resume close contact training next week, the Professional Game Board (PGB) said on Friday.

The Premiership was suspended in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government gave permission for elite sport to return behind closed doors from June 1 and the Premiership, which has nine rounds remaining, is hoping to resume on the weekend of Aug. 14-16.

In Stage One of the "Rugby Restart" plans, players were cleared to resume individual training with strict social distancing measures last month.

The PGB said Stage Two will now see a resumption of close contact training where small groups of players "will be able to interact much closer to one another."

"I'm delighted to confirm that Rugby Restart is on track," PGB chairman Chris Booy said in a statement.

"The teams at Premiership Rugby, Rugby Football Union, Rugby Players Association and at our clubs have undertaken a huge amount of work to get us to Stage Two and I commend them for their dedication and tireless commitment to resuming the League campaign when it is safe to do so."

As part of the Stage Two guidance, the players and staff are required to follow a formal "opt-in" process. They must also undergo regular testing for coronavirus.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup knockout stages, which were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will take place in September with the respective finals on Oct. 16 and 17.