English rugby will introduce guaranteed in-season breaks for players as part of the structure for the next three seasons.
Starting with 2019-20, the improved season structures will see a number of extra player welfare driven initiatives and a reduced number of international/club overlaps for the top-level professional game in England.
The changes include a commitment to a maximum number of match involvements, rest for the next England Rugby World Cup squad in July 2020, a year before the next British & Irish Lions’ tour, and alignment with the global season requirements, based on the San Francisco agreements.
The key announcements include:
- Guaranteed in-season breaks for players in each of the three seasons.
- Mandatory five-week post-season rest for all players which includes two weeks’ absolute rest and three weeks’ active rest
- Minimum 10 weeks off/pre-season for England Senior Elite Player Squad (EPS) players (five weeks rest and five weeks preparation)
- Minimum 12 weeks between Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final and Round 1 of the following Gallagher Premiership Rugby season
- Maximum 35 match involvements (>20 minutes) in any one season for all players
- Maximum 30 full game equivalents (reduced from 32) in any one season for all players
- Premiership Rugby Cup structure to provide rest weeks for players with the most match time
- England Senior EPS players to have a mandatory rest week if playing all international matches and more than 65% of total minutes (reduced from 80%) in the Quilter Internationals or Six Nations
- England Rugby World Cup squad rested for the summer Tests in July 2020 unless they have had 20 or fewer match involvements in the 2019-20 season
- England players on the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour to have a rest week during the 2021 Autumn internationals
- English Lions’ players to have 10 weeks break
- Tri-partite panel with an independent chairman to monitor and ensure compliance with the principles and to decide on any individual exceptions