The Saracens salary cap scandal of 2019 means that the heavyweight English club will compete in the 2020-21 season’s Greene King IPA Championship after automatic relegation.
The league will commence on 6 March 2021.
The respective conferences were determined by the teams’ standings when the 2019-20 season came to an end in March this year, with Saracens thus taking the place of Newcastle Falcons.
The conferences are thus as follows:
Therefore, the two Conferences will be:
Saracens, Cornish Pirates, Ampthill, Jersey Reds, London Scottish, Hartpury University
Ealing Trailfinders, Coventry, Nottingham, Bedford Blues, Doncaster Knights, Richmond
Teams will play home and away within their conference producing 10 competition rounds, subsequent to which there will be a two leg play off final between the winner of each league to determine the team that will earn promotion to the Gallagher Premiership for the 2021/22 season.
A significant downside to the season start so much later than it ordinarily does is that Saracens’ numerous England representatives will head into the 2021 Six Nations competition (starting in February) without any club game time under the belt.
"The clubs have chosen not to return to play under adapted laws and the March start date allows time for clubs to gain clarity from Sport England regarding the Sport Winter Survival Package before starting pre-season training," the RFU said.
"All Championship clubs are unanimously behind the intended competition as outlined, but require some weeks of full training, to make squads 'match ready,' after the long absence of competitive rugby."
In order to ascend back into the Premiership, Saracens will, of course, be required to be crowned victors of the Championship. On the surface, it is something that is well within their capabilities. They will, however, be the obvious ‘team to beat’ in the competition and will face all opposition in the latter’s most fired-up state of mind.