A Message from Simon Orange

Dear Sale Sharks Supporters.

Having been involved in the discussions and the subsequent decision-making process relating to the policy of points awarded for Premiership games cancelled due to Covid and also PRL’s decision not to bring forward their fixtures to fill the two-week void created by the unfortunate cancellation of the two rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup, I would like to take the time to help explain the rationale behind both directives.

It has been agreed to award 2 points and 4 points for non-contested Premiership games due to Covid (2 points to the squad unable to make the fixture due to Covid and 4 points to the other team).

It was decided that we would not assign blame to clubs for contracting Covid. Every club is taking the utmost safety precautions to prevent Covid infection, but the fact is, Covid is a transmittable disease that is infecting many people on a global scale. Anyone who comments about ‘playing the Covid card’ is, at best, talking nonsense and at worst being incredibly insensitive to the many thousands of people who have suffered and died because of this virus.

The Covid testing protocols in place across the PRL are entirely independent and cannot be manipulated by clubs for their own purpose/gain. Anyone who suggests that clubs would seek to deliberately contract the virus to avoid certain fixtures does not warrant a response.

In the decision to assign no blame, PRL decided that the club who can’t fulfil their fixture is awarded 2 points. This doesn’t penalise the club as much as awarding zero points but, all the same they are disadvantaged by losing the chance of winning the game and earning either 4 or 5 league points. The club who could still fulfil the fixture is prevented from being able to achieve 5 points but they do still get a guaranteed 4 points so have had an acceptable outcome.

Many alternative ideas were mooted including awarding no points and other point combinations, but it was decided overall this 2/4 system was the fairest to both of the affected clubs and this is what was agreed by the PRL Rugby Committee and the owners of all 13 clubs that the PRL represents.

It has been decided not to bring forward Gallagher Premier League fixtures into the two-week void created by the cancellation of the rounds 3 & 4 of the European Cup Competition.

When it was learned (late on January 11th) that rounds 3 & 4 of the European competition were not going proceed (on the weekends of Jan 16/17 and 23/24) the PRL Rugby Committee (on which I sit) met, as we had already done on a number of occasions that weekend, to decide if we should bring forward some Premiership fixtures to fill the resulting void and to create more room later in the season.

Bringing matches forward was going to be difficult, though not impossible, because of clubs’ own logistics and the broadcast contract and schedule. For it to happen all the clubs would have to agreed unanimously and it certainly would not have suited some. It was decided that we should not bring the fixtures forward for the following reasons:

  • We did not need to create any free weeks later in the Premiership season because the Round 3 & 4 European matches were not going to be rescheduled for a later date
  • We did not see any benefit in changing/compromising the Premiership competition
  • It made no sense bringing fixtures forward to a time when the rate of transmission is at its peak
  • The NHS is close to capacity and it was thought prudent not to add potential greater stress to the system at this time
  • It made no sense to move fixtures forward to a time when crowds are still not permitted due to lockdown/tier systems
  • Players & staff had a hectic schedule to complete the 19/20 season plus a very short pre-season, so a two-week break would be good for everyone’s welfare.

These decisions were taken after much discussion. Many other options were debated and, as you will imagine when you have so many interested parties, there were differing opinions. I am sure there are many people out there who think they know better and have better solutions but there are also very capable Club owners and CEOs and PRL executives involved in the decision-making. As one of those individuals, I believe we have come to the right conclusion and am fully supportive of the outcome on these two issues. I would also like to thank the owners and CEOs of the other clubs as well as the PRL for their hard work and commitment to these matters.



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