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Saracens facing fixture chaos in rearranged rugby calendar

As English rugby bosses scramble to rearrange the domestic calendar, Saracens is leaving them with a major headache. The current European champions must play next season in England’s second-tier Championship after being demoted from the Premiership for breaching salary-cap regulations.

The coronavirus outbreak has thrown the rugby schedule into chaos, with English authorities deciding to cancel the Championship season but keep alive hopes of finishing the Premiership campaign. It leaves the prospect of the next season of the Championship starting — maybe in September — while the current Premiership season is ongoing.

Adding to the mess is the fact that Saracens is still in the European Champions Cup, which organizers are hoping to complete in mid-October — if public health regulations allow — when the Championship could be in full swing and the Premiership still might not be finished.

“That is one of the topics we have got to resolve,” Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said of Saracens. Sweeney spoke of the need for a “spirit of harmony” as organizers look to get their competitions restarted or finished. There is also the lucrative international game to consider, with the prospect having already been raised of this year’s suspended Six Nations tournament being completed in October.

Some of England’s best players are on the Saracens squad, like captain Owen Farrell, lock Maro Itoje and No. 8 Billy Vunipola. “You need that recognition that 2020 is an exceptional year and we have to get around a table and find compromises that work for both sides,” Sweeney said. “We want to avoid a pure conflict situation with that and recognize the international game has got requirements and the club game also, but let’s find a way through it.”

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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