18 March 2020

England should cancel Japan tour to stop Premiership clubs folding, says Ugo Monye

Former England and Harlequins player Ugo Monye believes the Red and Whites' boss Eddie Jones should cancel their Japan tour this summer to help Premiership clubs survive.

The Premiership is currently suspended until April 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

England were due to head to Japan for a two-match series with the Brave Blossoms in July, but Monye has suggested that should be cancelled so England's players can compete in the remaining Premiership games which could be played in the summer.

Speaking on the BBC's Rugby Union Podcast, Monye said: "We are in an uncomfortable position where everyone has to be more selfless. Do we need the tour to Japan - well, it depends who we are asking. If you are asking Eddie Jones, it is absolutely essential.

"But in terms of the global rugby game, if you have Premiership clubs that are on the brink of extinction, or falling apart, or folding in then I think something just has to give and we have to compromise. 

"For me, that would be the first thing to give, a two or three week tour where you could potentially play four matches in that and then you have to try and shoe-horn the rest of the games in.

 "There are so many different layers to all of this that makes it so difficult. Try and fulfil the nine games, it's going to be uncomfortable, but explore that."

Monye with Brian O'Driscoll and Laurence Dallagio commentating on Premiership rugby for BT Sport (PA Images)

Monye also suggested that the Premiership season shouldn't finish until fans could attend matches.

"What do you do to try and catch up with the games? Do you play behind closed doors? If you do that, then clubs can't afford it and you have potential clubs that would fold," he added.

"We know that it is not a financially viable business and every club in the Premiership loses money. I would postpone the league for as long as possible up until we can get full gates again.

"Can clubs survive? The answer is no one actually knows, my fear is some may not."

Premiership clubs lost £44 million last season and that number is likely to increase if this campaign cannot be finished.

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