England’s professional players want the crisis over the rugby calendar to be resolved within the next two months.
The Premiership clubs and the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) are currently at an impasse over plans to extend the season from 2019-2020.
In May the RPA “unanimously rejected” proposals to extend the campaign to 10 months, stating it would be “seriously detrimental” to player welfare.
It now wants a resolution by January’s Professional Game Board (PGB) meeting.
The PGB, made up of the power-brokers of English rugby – the Rugby Football Union, Premiership clubs and RPA – met at Twickenham on Wednesday, with the future calendar a central part of discussions.
It’s understood the parties are closer together than previously, but while the players have set a target for the situation to be sorted within months, sources at both the RFU and Premiership Rugby remain cautious.
Strike action has been mooted as an option of last resort is not seen as an unfeasible scenario.
The need to alter the structure of the domestic calendar is a result of changes to the international schedule from 2020 onwards, with the June Test window shifting to July to allow for a better alignment between the hemispheres.
Senior figures among the English clubs believe an extended Premiership season, running from September to June, would reduce overlaps between domestic and international rugby, while also providing a more “balanced” schedule for players.
However the RPA remains unconvinced, and has asked Premiership Rugby to present a more detailed picture of the proposal.
The new boss at the RFU, Steve Brown, has admitted the situation is a “concern”, and stressed the players’ voice will be heard in the bid to find a resolution.