‘All options’ on the table for Premiership

English rugby boss Steve Brown has admitted “all options” will be considered over restructuring the Aviva Premiership.

Maro Itoje (left) has suffered a broken jaw and could be a doubt for the start of England's Six Nations campaign.

Top administrators in English rugby are thrashing out a new format for the domestic season to fall in line with the reshaped global calendar that starts in 2020.

Chief executive Brown admitted the Rugby Football Union will keep its options open over potentially reducing the Premiership from 12 to 10 teams, to streamline the number of fixtures over player welfare concerns.

“We’re looking at all options, but there’s no specific consideration of numbers at the moment, whether it’s the first or second level, at this stage,” said Brown.

“It’s not just about number of teams in the league, it’s also about the number of competitions played within the season.

“So there’s a number of factors to be considered, and not any one of those is decided on yet, but they are all being looked at.

“Fundamentally the discussions go on around the domestic season, the global season, they continue.

“They’re not at the point where any conclusions can be drawn at this stage, and we’re evaluating a range of options that make that work.

“We’re trying to make that season work, we’ve got some time to do that, so there’s no rush.”

Top England and Premiership players have voiced concerns over the potential 10-month domestic campaign that could prove the result of the reshaped global calendar.

A host of stars have admitted they would not rule out striking in a bid to force change and ease the burden on already heavily-leaden top-line pros.

Brown insisted the RFU’s continued discussions with the Rugby Players Association and Premiership Rugby are making good progress, and can still avert any threats of industrial action.

“We’re certainly aiming to get that done before the end of this season, but not in January,” said Brown.

“But there are discussions to make that season work, and what impact that has on various levels of the game. But there’s nothing definitive yet.

“The primary thing is to make sure the season fits within the year from 2020 onwards, that’s what we’re working on at the moment.

“But other than that the Championship is important as well, we’re having a look to make sure that works in the way it was originally intended.

“There’s no specific plan of action at this point. It’s primarily again with player welfare in mind. There’s very open and transparent discussions taking place with all the various levels of the game, working closely with PRL, the RPA as you’d expect us to. We’ve all got the same interests at heart really.”

Meanwhile Bath have moved closer to receiving a fine from Premiership Rugby for allowing Taulupe Faletau to play for Wales in Saturday’s 24-22 win over South Africa in Cardiff.

Premiership Rugby has confirmed it has charged Bath with allegedly breaching the English domestic league governing body’s approved policies.

Bath released Faletau for Wales’ clash with South Africa in a move that fell outside of World Rugby’s official window for releasing players for Test duty.

And now Bath could be hit with monetary sanctions for allowing the British and Irish Lions back-rower to feature for Wales.

“Premiership Rugby confirms that Bath Rugby have today been charged with allegedly breaching Premiership Rugby approved policies,” read a Premiership Rugby statement.

“The allegation relates to the Premiership Rugby Board policy around international duty and specifically Taulupe Faletau being released outside the periods specified in World Rugby Regulation 9.

“Bath Rugby have seven days to respond to the allegation and once that time has passed Premiership Rugby will issue a further update. Premiership Rugby will make no further comment until that time.”


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