Players from Wasps, Worcester Warriors and Gloucester have taken a 25 per cent pay cut due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premiership season was suspended on Monday for five weeks due to COVID-19.

With a loss of revenue as a result of no games being played, Wasps have lowered wages by a quarter from April 1 until Premiership action resumes, though a number of lower paid staff will be excluded from the reductions.

"I spoke with [head coach] Lee Blackett and senior members of the playing squad last night, and we then communicated this message to the wider team and colleagues," Wasps CEO Stephen Vaughan said in an open letter to fans, partners, staff and the community.

"I could not be more proud of their response, understanding and determination to help the club in such testing times. The same is true of the players' efforts to support our wider community stay connected and keep talking, which I am sure you will be aware of."

Worcester have lowered wages by the same margin, also effective from the start of next month. The cut will not apply to staff below a certain salary threshold, though.

"We have offered as much support as we can to any member of staff who may suffer particular hardship as a consequence," the Warriors added in a statement on the club's website.

Gloucester confirmed they have taken the move amid the global pandemic to help them through "this incredibly challenging time".

Meanwhile, the Rugby Football Union on Friday confirmed the season is over for all levels below the Premiership.

Sam Simmonds and Olly Woodburn scored doubles as Exeter Chiefs ran in eight tries to obliterate Bath 57-20, sealing their return to the top of the Premiership.

Sale moved into first place on points difference with their emphatic win over London Irish on Friday, but Exeter swiftly returned to the summit with a dominant performance of their own.

They were 36-3 up when number eight Simmonds' second try one minute into the second half was successfully converted.

Bath then touched down three times to make the scoreline more respectable but could not avoid defeat, with Woodburn and Jack Maunder increasing Exeter's margin of victory in the closing stages.

Elsewhere on Saturday, a Saracens team that included Mako Vunipola earned a 24-13 home win over struggling Leicester Tigers thanks to two Alex Lewington tries.

Controversy has surrounded Vunipola, who was stood down by England for their Six Nations match against Wales after returning from Tonga via Hong Kong amid coronavirus fears, even though he has not displayed symptoms.

Ben White ran in Leicester's only try of the match in the second half to put his side ahead, but the momentum changed when Dominic Morris crossed for Sarries just after the visitors had Telusa Veainu sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Wasps claimed a third straight win under Lee Blackett to move above Bath and up to fifth place as they saw off Gloucester at the Ricoh Arena.

The hosts triumphed 39-22, having scored 22 unanswered points in the first 30 minutes. Gloucester have now suffered six consecutive defeats across all competitions.

In-form Bristol Bears moved up to third in the Premiership with a 19-13 West Country derby win at Bath and Wasps ended London Irish's winning run on Sunday.

Bath and Bristol started the showdown at a packed Rec on the back of three consecutive victories, but it was Pat Lam's side who remained on a roll to move above Northampton Saints.

Chris Vui reached out to score the opening try just five minutes in and Callum Sheedy produced a moment of magic to set up a second Bristol five-pointer, picking out Alapati Leiua with a pinpoint cross-field kick after creating space with a clever show-and-go.

A second Rhys Priestland penalty just before half-time reduced the deficit to six points, but Harry Randall's try gave Bristol breathing space - Sheedy converting for a second time.

Priestland fed Will Chudley for Bath's only try 15 minutes from time soon after he replaced debutant Rhys Webb, but Bristol hung on to keep their rivals below them in fifth spot and complete a double after hammering them on the opening day.

Wasps are up to sixth after beating the Exiles 36-26 at the Madejski Stadium.

Irish had won three in a row, but Jacob Umaga was among five Wasps try-scorers in an entertaining victory on the road.

Sale Sharks moved up to second in the Premiership with an easy 36-3 win over Leicester Tigers.

Second-bottom Leicester took the lead through Noel Reid's penalty but it was all downhill thereafter.

Marland Yarde's try was sandwiched between efforts from Bryn Evans and Coenie Oosthuizen as Sale took command and the wing scored each of the Sharks' second-half tries to complete his hat-trick.

Wasps routed already-relegated Saracens 60-10 in Friday's other game to go seventh.

Zack Kibirige and Brad Shields crossed for doubles while Jimmy Gopperth tallied 20 points with the boot as Wasps went level with Gloucester on 23 points in the fight for the European Challenge Cup places.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young is to leave the Premiership club after a nine-year reign, saying it is "the right time" to move on.

Young last week stepped back from first-team duties in a surprise move that saw Lee Blackett become the Premiership club's interim head coach.

The end of an era for Wasps was confirmed on Tuesday when Young's departure was confirmed by the club.

Former Wales and Lions prop Young joined Wasps in 2011 from Welsh region Cardiff Blues, and his son Thomas is part of the current squad.

Young, who has been linked with the Ospreys, said: "It will be tough to leave a club and group of people that has meant so much to me over the past decade, but I feel this is the right time for both the club and for myself."

He added: "Wasps has been a huge part of my life and I wish everyone at the club the best of luck for the future."

The 52-year-old led the Coventry-based team to the Premiership final in 2017, when they topped the regular-season standings but suffered an agonising 23-20 defeat after extra-time against Exeter Chiefs in the final at Twickenham.

They finished third in 2016 and 2018 but were eighth last season and sit 10th this term.

Curtis Rona scored a pair of tries as London Irish secured a 29-15 derby win at Harlequins, while Premiership high-flyers Sale Sharks were brought back down to earth by beleaguered Saracens.

Irish stunned title contenders Northampton Saints last time out and followed that up with a convincing bonus-point victory at The Stoop on Saturday.

Rona laid on the opening try for Matt Rogerson in treacherous conditions and the all-action wing grabbed his first of the afternoon after brilliant work from Ben Meehan.

A Marcus Smith penalty was Quins' only score of the first half and they were 17-3 down at the break after Stephen Myler was on the target from the tee at the other end, having converted both tries.

Alex Dombrandt powered his way over to reduce the deficit, but Rona dotted down again and Ollie Hoskins bagged the bonus point after Cadan Murley helped himself to Quins' second try in west London.

Sale missed the chance to move ahead of Northampton into second spot, going down 36-22 to champions Saracens at Allianz Park after beating leaders Exeter Chiefs in their previous match.

Rhys Carre, Rotimi Segun, Nick Isiekwe and Richard Barrington touched down for Saracens, while fit-again full-back Alex Goode shone in his first Premiership match of the season.

Wasps were beaten 18-9 by fellow strugglers Leicester Tigers at the end of a week that saw director of rugby Dai Young step back from first-team duties, while Bath edged out Worcester Warriors 22-21.

Wasps have revealed that director of rugby Dai Young is to step back from first-team duties for an "interim period".

The Premiership club stated on Tuesday that Lee Blackett will switch from his role as attacks and backs coach to become interim head coach.

Young was appointed by Wasps nine years ago and has since masterminded three successive play-off appearances.

The dual code former Wales prop had a successful spell as Cardiff Blues head coach before joining Wasps. 

Coventry-based Wasps are ninth in the Premiership with just three wins from nine matches.

Young's side failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup, finishing third in Pool 3.

Sale Sharks survived a second-half fightback from Exeter Chiefs to secure a hard-earned 22-19 victory over the Premiership leaders.

Having headed into Saturday's encounter on the south coast without a defeat in all competitions since November, Exeter found themselves trailing 22-5 at the interval after a blistering first-half display from the visitors.

With Tom O'Flaherty sent to the sin bin early on Exeter, Sale ran in three tries in the first half – Chris Ashton, Daniel du Preez and Byron McGuigan getting on the scoresheet.

Rob du Preez added a further seven points, though Phil Dollman's try had handed the Chiefs some hope and Exeter gained 14 points in the space of seven minutes to set up a grandstand finale.

But Sale held firm, clinching a victory that lifted them into third, four points behind Exeter.

Elsewhere, Wasps ran in three tries in the second half to come from behind and edge out Worcester Warriors 30-26, with Dan Robson's late try proving decisive in a bonus-point win.

Wasps are eighth, level on points with the Warriors and three shy of Bath, who just got the better of Leicester Tigers – Tom Homer's double ultimately securing a 13-10 victory.

Meanwhile, Bristol Bears snapped a three-match losing streak with a convincing 34-16 triumph over west country rivals Gloucester, who slipped into fourth.

Callum Sheedy kicked 19 of the Bears' points, converting five penalties in the first half, with Bristol going over three times after the break.

Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints continue to set the pace in the Premiership after the top two in the table both won on Sunday.

Leaders Exeter were coasting to victory away at London Irish when they led 28-7 at the break, four first-half tries securing them a bonus point inside 40 minutes.

Sam Hill touched down for the second time in the game early in the second half to extend the advantage, yet London Irish refused to go away.

The Chiefs had both Olly Woodburn and Ollie Devoto sin-binned, forcing them to play seven minutes with only 13 men, as the Exiles cut the gap to 14 points when Steve Mafi grabbed their fourth try.

Yet Gareth Steenson kicked a 67th-minute penalty following on from his six successful conversion attempts, as Exeter triumphed 45-28.

There were plenty of points – plus a red card – as Northampton prevailed 35-31 at the Ricoh Arena thanks to a late try from Taqele Naiyaravoro.

The visitors were without Tom Collins, dismissed for serious foul play, and the sin-binned Cobus Reinach when they scored in the 78th minute, replacement Naiyaravoro barging his way to the line.

They had led 28-10 early in the second half when Reinach crossed for the second time, yet Wasps hit back with 21 unanswered points, a scoring spree that seemingly put them on course to triumph over 13 men.

However, Northampton overcame their numerical disadvantage to snatch the win, meaning they remain a point behind Exeter.

A late try from Nizaam Carr saw Wasps edge Bristol 26-21 in the Premiership on Friday.

Carr crashed over down the right in the final minutes at Ashton Gate as Wasps ended a three-game losing run and claimed their second win of the season.

It took until the second half for the game to come to life after Bristol, who were aiming to go top of the table, led 3-0 at the interval.

Wasps looked on track when they led 19-13 with less than 20 minutes remaining, but a Harry Thacker try and Callum Sheedy's 76th-minute penalty had Bristol back in front.

But Carr scored the match-winner for Wasps and Jacob Umaga, who finished with 11 points, added the conversion.

Wasps are 10th in the table after two wins from seven games this season, while the Bears are third, two points behind leaders Exeter Chiefs.

Saracens made it five Premiership victories on the bounce as they shrugged off conceding an early try to defeat Bristol Bears 47-13.

The defending champions – who still sit bottom thanks to their 35-point deduction for breaching salary cap rules – fell behind to Luke Morahan's ninth-minute try on Saturday.

But Saracens responded quickly through Mako Vunipola and swiftly wrested control thanks to Max Malins' try.

Malins helped himself to another after the restart, with Nick Tompkins also at the double as the home side went over five times in the second half.

However, Sarries are still 17 points behind Leicester Tigers, whose second-half capitulation at Welford Road enabled Exeter Chiefs to go top.

Exeter were 22-14 down at half-time, yet rallied after the interval to score 17 unanswered points and capitalise on Northampton Saints' 22-10 defeat at Sale Sharks.

Chris Ashton, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Akker van der Merwe went over for Sale as the Sharks moved into the top four.

Meanwhile, Wasps suffered a third successive Premiership loss as they went down 28-22 at home to Harlequins, who held on for a bonus-point win despite having Joe Marler sin-binned late on.

Wasps took the lead at the Ricoh Arena, though Harlequins dominated for 40 minutes up to the hour mark, running in four tries without reply.

Thomas Young's effort eventually pulled the hosts back into contention, but the TMO denied them a late try and they were left with a losing bonus point as consolation.

A pair of tries from Matt Proctor helped Northampton Saints move top of the Premiership as they made it four wins from five with a 36-13 triumph over Leicester Tigers.

New Zealander Proctor, whose sole appearance for the All Blacks came a year ago, was making his Premiership debut and soon endeared himself to the Franklin's Garden crowd with an early brace in the derby.

Saints were without international trio Courtney Lawes, Dan Biggar and Owen Franks due to injury, yet they were 24-10 up at the interval, Proctor crossing twice and then producing the break that led to Api Ratuniyarawa going over.

There was no way back for Leicester, despite Guy Thompson's first-half score, as Tom Collins and Fraser Dingwall added further tries for Northampton after the interval.

Exeter Chiefs moved up to second, four points adrift of Saints, with a comfortable 38-3 success over Wasps.

Having lost to Bristol Bears last time out in the Premiership, Exeter bounced back in style in a five-try display, with England international Luke Cowan-Dickie among those to go over.

Fourteen-man Sale Sharks were beaten 20-13 by Worcester Warriors as the visitors were left to rue Jean-Luc du Preez's red card for a shoulder-led tackle on the stroke of half-time.

Sale led at the break, Faf de Klerk and Chris Ashton having gone over, but Perry Humphreys and Ashley Beck both crossed in the space of two minutes after the Sharks went down to 14 men, with the boot of Duncan Weir - who kicked two conversions and a pair of penalties - proving pivotal.

England lock Joe Launchbury has signed a new contract with Premiership side Wasps.

The long-serving captain was linked with a move to Sale Sharks at the start of this year, but Wasps insisted he was going nowhere.

Launchbury has now committed his future to a club where he has spent 10 seasons, making 142 appearances.

The 28-year-old is optimistic Dai Young's men can challenge for honours after agreeing to extend his stay.

"Wasps have been great to me and I will forever have an association with the club," said Launchbury.

"There have been some special moments during the past 10 years and I want to create more of those over the coming seasons.

"We have a good young squad, and I think we're now starting to see young players coming through the system which a crucial cog in any elite club.

"With a fantastic home ground at Ricoh Arena and our own high-performance training base being built, the future certainly looks very bright.

"Hopefully as a club we keep developing and growing more and more Premiership-class players, and compete for silverware moving forward."

Wasps did not disclose the length of the deal agreed by the uncompromising forward, who has 62 England caps to his name.

Rob du Preez kicked 17 points as Sale Sharks, who were twice reduced to 14 men, overcame Wasps 28-18 to move into second place in the Premiership.

The Sharks lost 18-16 to Gloucester in their previous league outing at home this season but avoided a second successive defeat on their own turf.

Du Preez kicked five penalties and also converted brother Dan's try in a first half that saw Sale have Simon Hammersley sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Valery Morozov also saw yellow in the second half for the hosts, while forward Josh Beaumont was carried off on a stretcher during an eventful contest.

AJ MacGinty kicked two late penalties to extend Sale's advantage, the second of them denying Wasps – who had winger Paolo Odogwu sent off against his former club in the closing seconds for a dangerous challenge for a high ball – a losing bonus point on their travels.

 

Exeter Chiefs roared back from 17-3 down to stun Worcester Warriors and claim a thrilling Premiership triumph on Sunday.

The Chiefs were indebted to Harry Williams as the prop's late converted try sealed a dramatic 24-20 victory at Sixways. 

A very different story appeared to be unfolding when Perry Humphreys touched down twice in the first half for the hosts, with Duncan Weir adding the extras both times and kicking a penalty.

But the Chiefs, beaten in the final last season after topping the table, cut the deficit courtesy of Jack Maunder's score.

And the second half belonged to the visitors, who ramped up the pressure when Matt Kvesic dotted down against his former club.

Another Weir penalty looked to have earned the Warriors some breathing space but Williams had other ideas and powered over to win it for his side. 

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