England star criticises Premiership's failure to fill Euro void
NEWS: Harlequins and England wing Chris Ashton is unhappy at the decision to take a two-week break rather than fill the gap left by the postponement of European club games with English Premiership matches instead.
Both the European Champions Cup and second-tier European Challenge Cup have been suspended after the French government effectively barred their clubs from taking part in cross-border competitions because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
Rob Baxter, Director of Rugby at English champions Exeter, was one of several Premiership coaches to call for domestic league fixtures to be brought forward in a season where COVID-19 has already led to several cancellations.
But Premiership Rugby decided the gap in the schedule would be best utilised by implementing a break on welfare grounds.
Ashton, however, disagreed.
“It’s not ideal for us as players,” Ashton told the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
“We were due to play anyway so I don’t think it matters what competition it is, if it was European or carrying on in the Premiership.
“The last thing teams want is to go two weekends without a game. We need game time and need to keep playing, it just makes the competition healthy and keeps everyone fit and firing,” added Ashton, who won the last of his 44 England caps in 2019.
There are also concerns that a break now could leave some England players who won’t have played for a month or more ahead of the reigning champions Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 6.
“It’s not ideal for us as players, but as always we will train for the next two weeks and try to put that in when we get back to playing,” said Ashton.