Scottish professional rugby players hope to return on June 22

Scottish Rugby chief sets provisional date for Edinburgh and Glasgow players to resume training.

Scottish professional rugby players hope to return on June 22 Gary Hutchison via SWNS

Scotland’s professional rugby players will return to training on June 22 – providing the Scottish Government has moved to phase two of easing lockdown.

Scottish Rugby hope to have Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh players back at Murrayfield Stadium on that date to begin preparations for the resumption of top level rugby.

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said: “The most welcome sign of change is the fact that from June 22 we have invited the players back to BT Murrayfield subject to moving into phase two to commence individual training.

“Glasgow and Edinburgh players will be invited in to voluntary fitness sessions, making sure we keep players fit for a potential resumption of contact rugby at the end of August, beginning of September.”

Dodson said Scottish Rugby continues to monitor the financial impact that the shutdown of sport is having on the game’s national governing body.

He stressed that having as many fans as possible in stadia for test matches in the autumn would be a huge boost.

He said: “We’re working really hard to make sure we get through this crisis in good shape. The longer that this situation goes on without income for our business, the more fragile the situation becomes.

“The issue around the Autumn Tests is crucial to us. The reason everyone is talking about social distancing from two metres to 1.5, or 1m to zero is that it has a significant impact on how many tickets we can sell, how many people can come through the door and enjoy whatever test schedule we can put forward.

“From where we stand at the moment, our presumption is that those tests will go ahead behind closed doors until we’re told different from government. 

“We’re working really closely with the Scottish Government – I’m talking to them all the time – and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to play with crowds for the autumn schedule but we’re not convinced and we’ve budgeted for the worst case scenario.”

Dodson, who is also hopeful that the suspended 2020 Six Nations Championship can be completed this autumn, is encouraged by rugby’s collaborative approach during the Coronavirus crisis.

The concept of bring the calendars of the northern and southern hemispheres together has been put forward for discussion and could lead to a proposal to make rugby a fully summer sport.

Dodson said: “I’m more encouraged than I’ve ever been in the time I’ve been in the game about the level of optimism around the global calendar.

“From my point of view, we’re very happy with summer rugby. We think it’s good for participation at grassroots level.

“The most crucial thing about this is the global alignment not only releases revenue opportunities, is that it works for everyone.

“From where I sit there’s more co-operation than ever before and people are looking make sure the emerging nations are catered for and we’re working closely with SANZAAR and that has been the real bonus of where we are after the last 11 to 12 weeks.”

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