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RFU ends rugby season below Premiership level

The Rugby Football Union has confirmed the end of the season for all levels below the Premiership following the coronavirus outbreak.

The move, which applies to "all league, cup and county rugby in England", means the Championship campaign will finish with at least seven rounds to play.

Newcastle Falcons are top with a 100% record, but are yet to seal promotion.

The RFU said a further update would be issued in April as they aim to "ensure fair and balanced outcomes".

Saracens' relegation from the Premiership has already been confirmed following persistent salary cap breaches, meaning Falcons are likely to replace them in the top flight.

The Premier 15s - the top division of women's rugby in England - has also ended early following the RFU's decision.

Sarries are top of that league, two points above second-placed Harlequins, but it is not yet clear whether they will be awarded the title or the season will be declared null and void.

"We are working through the implications of ending the season early and have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game," said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.

"While we would like to provide all the answers now, we need some time to get it right for the best interests of the game.

"Rest assured we are working on this as a priority and we will continue to send weekly updates to clubs."

Sweeney said the RFU was in "active discussions" with the Premiership, which was initially suspended until 14 April on Monday, to "review possible best next steps".

Exeter Chiefs are leaders of the top flight, five points clear of second-placed Sale Sharks.

The final round of fixtures are due to take place on 6 June and the Premiership final scheduled for 20 June, with the domestic season having started later than usual following the World Cup.

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