Premiership must consider players’ welfare says Norfolk star Youngs

Norfolk rugby star Ben Youngs Picture: PA

Norfolk rugby star Ben Youngs Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Norfolk international star Ben Youngs says rugby will be far from normal when the sport eventually resumes after the coronavirus pandemic.

The sporting calendar has been wiped out because of COVID-19 which has killed almost 10,000 people in the United Kingdom, with rugby union’s Premiership campaign suspended indefinitely.

Youngs accepts there may be minimal turnaround between the conclusion of this season and the start of the next one but has called for clear and sensible structuring from Premiership Rugby to protect players.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There is a good possibility that we will finish the season and two weeks later could be potentially starting the new season but if that’s what needs to happen then that’s what needs to happen.

“As players, you’ve just got to adapt to that and be ready. But we obviously have the concussion rate in rugby, which has been a hot topic for a while now, there’s no way that we could be playing two games a week.

“It just wouldn’t work, we haven’t got the squad size to be able to do that, you’d be putting the players at risk.”

Already there are talks about moving England’s summer tour of Japan to October, while the idea of an extra Six Nations tournament being played if England cannot fulfil their autumn internationals has also been put forward by Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney.

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Youngs, 30, who has 99 England caps, said: “It’s for other people to work exactly how they will structure it.

“Whether things have to be shifted about, whether potentially Europe is not played and the Premiership Cup is not played, I’m not sure, but yes - there has to be an element of getting the season finished and the next season started early.

“But there has to be change within the schedule to allow people to physically and mentally freshen up, otherwise if you go week in and week out you are going to end up with very depleted squads at the end of it.

“It is an opportunity to potentially change the structure of the season from how the format is currently, and trying to make it suit everyone more - opening the game more worldwide.”