Last weekend marked the long-awaited restart of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season, after a five-month hiatus – with Round 14 kicking off on Friday 14 August when Harlequins took on Sale Sharks at The Twickenham Stoop, with further matches following across the weekend at Worcester, Exeter, Bath, Bristol and Northampton.
After 159 days since the Gallagher Premiership was halted, rugby fans were treated to an action-packed and intriguing round of fixtures, with players returning fit and raring to go for the tail end of the campaign, as well as a plethora of new, high-profile signings on show. As well as Manu Tuilagi making his Sale debut against Harlequins on Friday, and Semi Radradra and Kyle Sinckler making their first appearance for Bristol Bears against Saracens, new Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick took the club into their first game of the Premiership restart against Exeter.
With rugby offering unique social distancing challenges due to levels of proximity between players and impact, the return to play has involved high-level collaboration between Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Players Association (RPA) since the season was suspended in March, to ensure competition was able to resume in a coronavirus-safe environment - aligning the various stages of social distancing announced by the UK Government with the best interests of players, volunteers and clubs. As well as implanting a comprehensive COVID-19 testing programme for players and staff and a contact tracing protocol, every Premiership game will be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
From close encounters to dominant performances, the opening round has most certainly set the tone and raised the excitement for the season. With eight rounds to come, followed by semi-finals and a final on October 24, there is plenty to play for.
Chris Mead, Chief Marketing Officer for Gallagher, said: “We’re thrilled to see the Gallagher Premiership return – with an injection of new faces and talent that has added a whole new dimension to the season.
“The restart of the season is an exciting moment for rugby fans, in what promises to be a compelling conclusion to the season.
"As title partner of the Premiership and as one of the world’s largest insurance and risk management consultants, we are delighted that a safe resumption of the season has been made possible to allow the players to be back doing what they love most.”
To celebrate the return to rugby, Gallagher has teamed up with ambassador and Harlequins legend Ugo Monye for a series of Instagram Live events on the @GallagherRugby Instagram channel, providing an exclusive look at how Premiership Clubs are putting risk management into action to keep the rugby community safe as play resumes.
Join Ugo on Wednesday 19 August as he takes over Gallagher’s Instagram channel once again to find out how Leicester Tigers are adapting training to keep the rugby community safe in the ‘new normal’ – with exclusive insights from players and coaches.
Missed Gallagher’s first two Instagram Lives with Ugo? Catch up now to see exactly what happened when Ugo went behind the scenes at Northampton Saints and Worcester Warriors to see first-hand the steps they are taking to manage and mitigate risk.