Premiership Rugby

Rugby Gets Go Ahead Following Passing Of Queen Elizabeth

Rugby Gets Go Ahead Following Passing Of Queen Elizabeth

After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom entered a period of national mourning, which drew a fog over the new Premiership Rugby season.

Sep 12, 2022 by RugbyPass
Rugby Gets Go Ahead Following Passing Of Queen Elizabeth

When news broke early Thursday evening that Queen Elizabeth II had died, the world took pause, while media channels came to life. 

Word of her passing spread quickly, as world leaders began to commemorate the Head of State and share stories of her character.

In the immediate aftermath, the United Kingdom entered a 10-day period of national mourning, which drew a fog over the new Premiership Rugby season that was set to commence a day later.

British domestic sporting institutions as a whole were given the unthankful task of deciding whether scheduled sport for the weekend would go ahead.

The EFL was one of the first to act, announcing Thursday that all Friday football fixtures across the professional leagues would be postponed. The decision indicated further weekend fixtures might tumble.

Premiership Rugby followed suit, canceling the opening game of the Premiership Rugby Cup between the Northampton Saints and Saracens. It had been set to kick off just over an hour after the Queen's death was announced and therefore was unsurprisingly called off at the last minute.

The league then published the following statement on its website: "On behalf of everyone at Premiership Rugby, and at our clubs, we are very saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We stand together in remembering the inspirational life of our Queen.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with The Royal Family and everyone around the world mourning the loss of Her Majesty."

Much like their football counterpart, Premiership Rugby abstained from making any public announcements about the upcoming weekend fixtures.

To clarify what conditions needed to be met by sporting bodies, the government soon released a public protocol, which did not enforce a blanket postponement of all sport. Instead, it put the decision in the hands of each individual sporting organization.

The Premier League reacted to this first, revealing mid-Friday morning that all weekend games were off and would be rescheduled. The same was true of the Scottish Premiership, WSL, EFL and grassroots football (in England).

News of how rugby would shape up took a little longer to materialize. 

The Scottish and Welsh unions did act fairly quickly and made public that their domestic leagues would not be playing over the weekend.

The ECB, having postponed Day 2 of England's test match against South Africa on Friday, then chose to run the remainder of the series decider out across the weekend.

After hours of deliberations, Premiership Rugby announced that Round 1 of the new season would go ahead. The two Friday evening fixtures between Bristol and Bath and Sale and Northampton were to be pushed back to Saturday and Sunday, respectively. All other matches were to go ahead as normal.

The league's full announcement, which appeared on its website, read: "Premiership Rugby is united in paying tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her inspirational life of service and her unparalleled contribution to the United Kingdom.

"Following consultation with the RFU, DCMS and the PRL Board, Premiership Rugby can confirm that as a mark of respect, the two Gallagher Premiership matches scheduled for Friday have been postponed.

"Premiership Rugby was paused Thursday evening, and we join other sports in resuming Premiership Rugby on Saturday, including the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, men's test match between England and South Africa at the Oval and the Women's IT20 match between England and India in County Durham, Super League and the Great North Run."

To further recognize the life and service of Queen Elizabeth, Premiership Rugby promised all of the following features would appear before each match began.

"The big screens and LED screens will be carrying commemorative messaging from gates opening until kickoff.

"Prior to kick-off, there will be a minute's silence, followed by the national anthem (start and finish on the match officials' whistle).

"All players and coaches will be invited to wear black armbands.

"All fixed flags to be positioned at half-mast. In line with Royal protocol following the official proclamation of His Majesty King Charles III, flags at all Premiership Rugby games Saturday will be at full mast."

As Round 1 matches went ahead, the moments of silence were observed by fans and players alike. Then, English club rugby took center stage, following its summer hiatus.

The Exeter Chiefs came out with a point to prove and showed glimpses of their title-winning form of old, toppling the reigning champions, the Leicester Tigers, in a close encounter at Sandy Park.

Also in action Saturday were the London Irish, who comfortably brushed aside the Worcester Warriors, the Harlequins, who came from behind to snatch victory late from Newcastle Falcons and Bristol, which overcame Bath by just two points in a thrilling high-scoring game at Ashton Gate.

Sunday began well for the Wasps, as they sailed to a 21-point first-half lead at Kingsholm, but they squandered their advantage in the second half to suffer defeat at the hands of Gloucester. 

Meanwhile, Sale kickstarted its campaign with a well-earned win over the free-flowing Northampton Saints.

Written by Stefan Frost