England stars Farrell, Itoje face delayed season start after Championship postponed

Saracens' stars Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell will enter the Six Nations without any gametime at club level. GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

England and Saracens stars Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Mako and Billy Vunipola will head to the Six Nations in February without any club games after the postponement of the Championship.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a national lockdown the RFU announced that the Championship season will begin on March 6.

Saracens, winners of four Premiership titles in the past six years, were sanctioned for spending above the league's £7 million pound salary cap and were docked points before being relegated from the top flight in the 2019-20 season.

"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."

Saracens' Mark McCall told the Daily Mail he hoped to arrange some preseason fixtures to give players a platform for their campaign to return to the Premiership.

"We are talking with [Eddie] Jones to see if he has playing requirements for some or all of those players," he said.

"We will come up with a collaborative plan, but I know he and the players are keen.

"What they've not really had this year is a preseason. They've gone straight from games in August, September and October into being flat-out with England for seven or eight weeks.

"It's a unique opportunity for them to have a mini preseason before the Six Nations."

The Championship has been split into two conferences of six teams each who will play home and away within their conference.

The top teams in each conference after 10 games will then contest a two-legged final to crown the winner, who will earn promotion to the top flight Premiership for the 2021-22 season.

Conference A: Saracens, Cornish Pirates, Ampthill, Jersey Reds, London Scottish, Hartpury University

Conference B: Ealing Trailfinders, Coventry, Nottingham, Bedford Blues, Doncaster Knights, Richmond