Ben Youngs warns trying to squeeze matches together would put players at risk


Ben 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.

The 2019/20 campaign has been indefinitely suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic but Premiership Rugby remains committed to playing the season to its conclusion.

Nine regular season rounds remain while officials are considering whether to push back the Twickenham final, initially scheduled for June 20, to late summer.

Ben Youngs, right, was a central figure in England's run to the Rugby World Cup final last year (Adam Davy/PA)
Ben Youngs, right, was a central figure in England's run to the Rugby World Cup final last year (Adam Davy/PA)

That could have knock-on repercussions for 2020/21 and, while Youngs is prepared to be flexible, the England and Leicester scrum-half has warned that squeezing two games in a week to shorten the backlog would be unacceptable.

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.

“Whether things have to get shifted about, whether potentially Europe’s not played, whether the Premiership Rugby Cup’s not played, I’m not quite sure.

“But there has to be an element where we get the season finished and the next season may start early but there has to be changes within the schedule to allow people to physically and mentally freshen up.

“Otherwise if you’re going week-in, week-out you’re going to end up with a very depleted squad by the end of it.”

The postponement of the Six Nations has delayed Youngs, a central figure in England’s run to the Rugby World Cup, from collecting his 100th international cap.

The 30-year-old would have almost certainly taken the number nine shirt against Italy in the final round but he remains stuck on 99 appearances.

He added: “I feel very fortunate to have done it this many times, but I’ve still got the desire and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to get one more.”