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Grassroots rugby in England set to return in March

By Sam Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Grassroots rugby in England is set to return this month, the RFU have revealed today.

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A statement from the RFU this afternoon states: “Following the government’s announcement that organised outdoor sport can resume from 29 March, the RFU has today published a new ‘Return to Community Rugby Roadmap’. The roadmap summarises the plan for a phased return to full contact rugby, subject to each step on the government roadmap being met.”

A six-stage process has been created by the governing body to guide grassroots players and coaches through the process of returning to play, with graduated levels of contact leading to full contact training in June.

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While this season’s competitive leagues have been cancelled, clubs will be free to organise friendlies during the summer months.

“As long as Covid-19 infection rates are kept under control, all adult and age grade competitions are expected to start in September, as normal, under full laws,” said the statement. “As of 29 March, community rugby clubs may hold contact training sessions, excluding scrums and mauls, and host Ready4Rugby, O2 Touch and Tag rugby matches between clubs. This applies to adult and age-grade players. Contact should be built incrementally and RFU guidance states that training sessions should not exceed 20 minutes of contact at this stage.”

“After four weeks of contact training to enable players to build fitness levels and condition themselves physically, matches with adapted laws (no scrums or mauls) will be permitted against other clubs from 26 April (Stage D2 on the roadmap). It will be clubs’ and players’ individual choice as to whether they play adapted contact or continue with Ready4Rugby, O2 Touch or Tag rugby.”

Full contact training is forecast to return in June, provided the UK government meet their scheduled re-opening criteria.

RFU Rugby Development Director, Steve Grainger said: “This is fantastic news for the community game and we are pleased to be able to publish our plan for a phased return to full contact rugby.

“It’s wonderful to see light at the end of the tunnel and we are as delighted as clubs and players across the country that they will soon be able to resume training and, subject to each step on government’s roadmap being achieved, progress towards an exciting season of rugby for 2021/22 from September.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we will share detailed stage-by-stage guidance to make the return to rugby as simple and as safe as possible as we progress through the stages.

“As during lockdown, we will continue to run webinars for coaches, players, match officials and volunteers to prepare for the return. Guidance will include advice for coaches on how to gradually and safely reintroduce contact, as well as ways to re-engage players and develop their skills over the coming months.

“As more guidance is published by government, we will provide facilities guidance to ensure clubs are in the best possible position when they’re able to re-open their clubhouses.”

On 22 February Government published a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England and provide a route back to a more normal way of life. Full details can be found on England Rugby’s website.

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Grassroots rugby in England set to return in March

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