Setback for Six Nations champs

Saracens' England internationals will not play a competitive game before the Six Nations after the new Championship season was delayed until March.

It leaves players including captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and the Vunipola brothers without a game before England face Scotland on 6 February.

Saracens were relegated from the Premiership earlier this year after breaching salary cap rules.

English rugby's second tier has not had a game since March due to Covid-19.

To counter the lack of preparation, Saracens have confirmed they are negotiating with fellow clubs to establish a separate cup competition format as part of the pre-season build up, sanctioned by the Rugby Football Union.

"These continue to be extremely difficult times for professional sports clubs and we are sensitive to the different positions that Championship clubs find themselves in," the Sarries statement said.

"We will continue to work hard with other Championship clubs and the RFU to deliver this proposed season which guarantees a competition and the opportunity to earn promotion into the Premiership."