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Timely boost for oval ball

England players ready for return to training

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STEP DOWN: Former Argentina star Agustin Pichot. Pic: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

STEP DOWN: Former Argentina star Agustin Pichot. Pic: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

REUTERS

STEP DOWN: Former Argentina star Agustin Pichot. Pic: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

Hopes of the rugby season resuming in the coming months have been handed another boost as the English RFU have confirmed that professional players can resume training under new guidelines published by the British government today.

The news comes on the back of New Zealand announcing a Super Rugby tournament, which is set to begin next month.

In England, plans are being put in place for players to carry out individual training programmes under carefully controlled medical conditions, whilst ensuring that the two metre social distancing measures are maintained at all times.

Training facilities will be regularly deep cleaned, while every player and staff member will be tested for Covid-19 symptoms before they are allowed to enter the premises.

Players and staff have also been warned to ensure they understand the specific risks involved in returning before they proceed.

Team training will remain on hold for now, but this move is seen as a positive with regard to rugby getting the green light in the coming weeks.

Closer to home, the IRFU are working towards an August 10 restart with the initial plan of returning to training next week put back.

It looks increasingly likely that a behind-closed-doors inter-pro series will take place, and with that in mind, the IRFU will be closely monitoring the situation of other unions, including the RFU, who welcomed the step forward in the next phase of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Meanwhile, former Argentina scrum-half Agustin Pichot has resigned from the World Rugby council following his recent defeat by Bill Beaumont to become the body's new chairman.

As expected, Pichot came up short to Beaumont by a final tally of 28 votes to 23, and has now taken the drastic action of quitting World Rugby.

Pichot had served as Beaumont's vice-chairman for the last four years, and while he was gracious in the defeat of the election, he has grown disillusioned with the direction that the sport is heading in.

The 45-year old was pushing for a greater spread of the wealth, which would see lesser nations get a bigger slice of the pie, and although Pichot could have spent the next few years rebuilding his campaign, he has pulled the plug altogether.

The 71-times capped ex-Puma has also resigned from his position as Americas Rugby president and the Argentine Rugby Union representative on World Rugby's council.

"As of today, I have decided not to continue as a UAR representative on the World Rugby Council, nor as a member of the Rugby World Cup Board, nor as president of Américas Rugby," Pichot said in a statement.