The RFU have issued the following statement regarding fixtures in the forthcoming Greene King IPA Championship:
The fixtures for the 2020/21 Greene King IPA Championship season have been announced.
Following loan assurances from Government as part of the Winter Sports Survival Package, 11 Greene King IPA Championship Clubs have elected to invest in Covid testing under the elite sport guidance framework to allow a start to the season on the weekend of 6 March 2021.
Operating under the elite sport framework, teams will play each other home or away producing 10 competitive matches over 11 league rounds. This will be followed by a two-leg play off final (home and away) between the top two placed teams in the league to determine which will earn promotion to Gallagher Premiership Rugby for the 2021/22 season provided it meets the current Minimum Standards Criteria.
London Scottish felt unable to participate this season but will return in the 2021/22 season. As a result, there will be one bye week per team and three reserve weekends (3/4 April, 8/9 May and 5/6 June) during the season.
Richmond secured a place in rugby’s second tier after finishing at the top of National League One at the end of the curtailed 2019/20 season. The club will face Hartpury University RFC away in the opening round.
Saracens kick off their Greene King IPA Championship season away against Cornish Pirates who finished last season in third position.
Newcastle Falcons regained its place in the Gallagher Premiership by finishing top of the table ahead of second-placed Ealing Trailfinders, who travel to Nottingham for their opening round match.
Elsewhere in the competition Ampthill, who finished their first season in the Greene King IPA Championship in fifth position, are at home to Doncaster Knights; Coventry host Bedford Blues at Butts Park Arena and Jersey Reds have a bye week.
Given the possibility of no crowds being allowed for some of the season, and wishing to take Greene King IPA Championship rugby to a wider audience, it is hoped to stream as many of the matches as possible.
A list of Hartpury University RFC confirmed fixtures will follow shortly (exact kick off times to be released at a later date).