PRO14 set target date for 2019-20 restart
Guinness PRO14 has now set a target date to conclude the 2019-20 season with two rounds of derby games against Glasgow Warriors on the weekends of 22 and 29 August 2020, followed by a potential Semi-Final and Final on the weekends of 5 and 12 September 2020.
The target date comes following months of planning that has seen PRO14 Rugby work alongside key medical personnel at the league’s unions and clubs, as well as key stakeholders such as World Rugby, to map out a return to action.
With rigorous protocols outlined for training, game-day logistics and match play, PRO14 Rugby is confident that proposals submitted by the league’s unions to governments across the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa will allow all teams to get back on the pitch. Discussions around these proposals will be on-going between each union and their respective governments as we continue to work towards the target resumption date of 22 August.
The 2019-20 season will now have an abbreviated finish that features two rounds of derby games in each territory counting towards final positions. This will cut the regular season from 21 game rounds to 15. Games postponed prior to the indefinite suspension will be deemed 0-0 draws, as previously stated by PRO14 Rugby on February 28, 2020.
With Edinburgh Ruby currently sitting top of Guinness PRO14 Conference B on 47 points – two points clear of 2nd place Munster, and 10 points clear of 3rd place Scarlets – it puts the club in a promising position to qualify for a potential Semi-Final, while supporters can look forward to the prospect of back-to-back fixtures against inter-city rivals, Glasgow Warriors.
Today’s news also sees the club qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup in 2020-21. PRO14 Rugby has agreed that rankings for European qualification for the 2020-21 season will be decided on the Conference table positions from Round 13 – which sees Edinburgh in pole position in Conference B.
This will include the points awarded to teams whose postponed games in Round 13 have been deemed 0-0 draws. Once the competition formats for the 2020/21 season have been announced by EPRC then PRO14 Rugby will confirm its qualifying teams for the Heineken Champions Cup.
Current circumstances and restrictions mean that it is anticipated that both derby games will require to be played behind closed doors at BT Murrayfield, with exact dates and kick-off times to follow. However, if circumstances change, then more information will be shared in due course. The club will also provide a ticketing update for 2019-20 Season Pass and 2019-20 match-ticket holders later this afternoon.
Reacting to today’s Guinness PRO14 announcement, Edinburgh Rugby Managing Director, Douglas Struth said:
"We very much welcome this news and fully support the Guinness PRO14’s ongoing efforts to resume the season. Sitting top of Conference B, we can now target two mouth-watering derby games against Glasgow Warriors - and we are potentially now only 3 matches away from a Final. This gives us all something tangible to work towards.
“We still have some significant challenges ahead of us, but with this news, in addition to construction having re-started on our new stadium this week and our players being invited to return to voluntary individual fitness activity from next Monday, it does feel that we are moving in a positive direction.
"We also welcome the news that we have qualified back into the 2020/21 EPCR Champions Cup, which is just reward for all the effort that the team and our fans have put in over this season - and ensures that the cream of European rugby will be returning to the capital next season - when it is safe to do so"
Following up on a return to action in 2019-20, Head Coach Richard Cockerill said:
“I think it’s good for everybody. It’s great to firstly not only have a date for an invite to voluntary fitness for the players, but now we can work towards a target of matches and we know when we’ll hopefully be playing again. Obviously, there will be some hurdles to get over first, but it’s a really positive step forward for all of us at the club.
“It will be great to hopefully face off against Glasgow in what are always intense derby fixtures, and hopefully we’ll get some positive performances and results and perhaps down the line the club will be looking forward to a Guinness PRO14 Semi-Final
“We’re also now back into the Champions Cup for 2020-21 which is brilliant news. The top table of Europe is always something we want to be part of on a regular basis because that’s where the best and consistent teams plays. We’ve tasted a bit of success in the Champions Cup last season and qualification for next season’s competition means we’re once again dining with the big boys of European rugby.”
The club will continue to keep supporters updated on all relevant information regarding the resumption of the 2019-20 season, while further details can be found below:
The 2019/20 season will have an abbreviated finish that features the most attractive match-ups and rivalries from the Guinness PRO14 with two rounds of derby games in each territory counting towards final positions. This will cut the regular season from 21 game rounds to 15. Games postponed prior to the indefinite suspension will be deemed 0-0 draws as previously stated by PRO14 Rugby on February 28, 2020.
The postponed Round 13 fixtures Zebre Rugby Club v Ospreys and Benetton Rugby v Ulster Rugby have now been deemed 0-0 draws and all four teams will have two points added to their totals as a result. The updated tables can be viewed here.
Derby rounds in Italy, Scotland and South Africa will see the two teams from each territory play back-to-back fixtures. The derby fixtures for the teams in Ireland and Wales have yet to be confirmed and will be announced in line with kick-off times and broadcast selections.
The season will be concluded across four consecutive weekends with the Guinness PRO14 Final targeted for Saturday, September 12. The two teams which finish top of their conferences will qualify for a semi-final stage in order to compete for places in the Final. PRO14 Rugby will consider the latest information in the territories that knock-out games could take place before making a final decision on the venue(s).
Tournament Director Comment
David Jordan, Tournament Director of the Guinness PRO14, said: “Safety has been, and will continue to be, the highest priority as we look to activate our plans to restart the 2019/20 season. We are very fortunate to be in a position where everyone involved is confident that we can conclude the season on the field of play.
“The work and diligence of our leading medical personnel at our unions, our clubs, World Rugby and key stakeholders to get us to this point has been immense. Operating across five territories often brings different complexities to the Guinness PRO14 but our unions have worked hard to bring proposals to their governments so we may put plans into action.”
Proposed Game Rounds
Round 14: Saturday, August 22
Round 15: Saturday, August 29
Semi-Finals: Saturday, September 5
Final: Saturday, September 12
Venues, Timings & Cross-border Travel
When venues across all five territories are agreed upon, consultations will begin with broadcast partners and all key stakeholders around suitable kick-off times. The respective unions involved in the Guinness PRO14 are in continued discussion with their relative authorities and governments regarding travel protocols and protective measures.
Health and safety protocols in relation to Covid-19
An overview of all the health and safety protocols and protective measures that will be put in place to prevent and mitigate the threat of Covid-19 will be published in due course. At that time tournament representatives will be made available to the media.
European Qualification & 2020/21 Season
PRO14 Rugby has agreed that rankings for European qualification for the 2020/21 season will be decided on the Conference table positions from Round 13. This will include the points awarded to teams whose postponed games in Round 13 have been deemed 0-0 draws. Once the competition formats for the 2020/21 season have been announced by EPRC then PRO14 Rugby will confirm its qualifying teams for the Heineken Champions Cup.
The 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 Season
Planning for the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 season has begun, but no decision has yet been agreed on a start date.