Community rugby has been given the green light by the UK government to restart but contact won’t be on the menu for English amateur players.

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The RFU confirmed that their action plan to commence a safe and phased return to grassroots rugby activity has been approved by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (‘DCMS’), going from Stage B to Stage C.

“The rugby community is now able to recommence some larger group rugby activity, initially non-contact, subject to adherence with RFU guidance,” said the RFU in a statement. “Any return is a decision for individual clubs to make and they must continue to follow government Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines, along with any local government lockdown restrictions that may be introduced.

“The return will initially be through non-contact rugby focused on Ready4Rugby, a non-contact game, enabling two teams of up to 10 players to engage in training and match activity in their own club environment. Subject to satisfactory operation through August we hope to then be able to move to inter-club Ready4Rugby in September. Other Touch Rugby activity (including O2 Touch centres) will also be able to recommence.”

In developing the action plan, the RFU was required to undertake a detailed assessment of exposure risk through face to face contact across both contact and non-contact forms of the sport.

“Unsurprisingly, the assessment highlighted a significantly increased risk in playing full-contact rugby and hence any form of contact rugby is still NOT permitted. We will continue to explore and analyse adaptations to the key high risk face to face contact areas and seek to identify safe and appropriate ways to bring these back, initially into training, and subsequently potentially into match play. This will be subject to further government approval and a further statement on this will be made should we reach this point.”

Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director, comments “It’s great that we’ve been able to secure the green light to recommence some rugby activity. Ready4Rugby provides a great opportunity for the rugby community to recommence training with larger group sizes and begin to reintroduce matches. We thank government for their support over the last few months to help get us to this position.

“We know that players are eager to get back to playing team rugby and whilst we recognise that there will be some disappointment that the 15-a-side contact game cannot yet return, player welfare and safety is paramount and we must continue to manage risk appropriately. The reaction of our community clubs over the last few months has been amazing, with many doing incredible work in their local communities. We are now delighted that they will be able to put some effort back into getting rugby activity underway.

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“We are sure this news will also be welcomed by schools, colleges and universities. We will continue to work with the education sector to ensure all rugby playing institutions are as prepared as they can be for the new academic year.”

More detailed information, including a video to educate the community on Ready4Rugby can be found here.

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