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English Premiership players to get in-season breaks

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Liverpool’s Scottish defender Andrew Robertson (2l) heads the ball away during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on September 29, 2018. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Players will have guaranteed in-season breaks under a new structure for the three English Premiership seasons starting with the 2019/20 campaign, officials announced Tuesday.

The rest periods will also include a mandatory five-week post-season rest for all players, who will now be limited to 30 full game equivalents, down from 32, in any one season.

The changes come amid a new structure that will see the English rugby season extended to 11 months, with the Premiership final now taking place in late June, amid attempts by rugby union officials to produce a unified global calendar that balances the needs of the sport in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

Post-season tours by the England national side, previously staged in June, will take place in July.

Twickenham will host the Premiership finals on June 20, 26 and 18 for the years 2020-22 with the campaigns starting on October 20, September 12 and September 18 respectively.

Traditionally, rugby union in England has been a winter sport, but a joint agreement between the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association will push the game more into the summer months.

But Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty, speaking at a Twickenham news conference, said the new set-up would achieve “a number of progressive goals for the English structure over the next three seasons, building in new player management approaches, reducing overlaps and scheduling more of Gallagher Premiership Rugby for the better weather conditions of spring and early summer”.

RPA chief executive Damian Hopley said: “It is fundamental that players had their say in the shaping of this new season structure”.

He added that the new agreement “gives players guaranteed in-season breaks for the first time and reduces playing thresholds”.


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