Sir Ian McGeechan has backed a radical plan to introduce no contact rugby at amateur level to allow clubs to get back playing amid the pandemic. Writing in his Sunday Telegraph column, McGeechan says when given the option of no rugby versus no contact rugby, he’d choose the latter.

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The Telegraph’s Gavin Mairs reported this week that the RFU were looking at contactless rugby as a way of getting the sport played again at local clubs whilst minimising human to human contact. With no tackling, scrums or maul, it would effectively be some variation of touch rugby.

McGeechan believes the plan is the best option as it stands.

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“Faced with the prospect of contact-free rugby (or more accurately a “no-contact game”) or no games, I would go for the hybrid option every time,” McGeechan wrote. “If there is no rugby, if there is nothing to watch, no socialising, no incentive for players to train, a club’s whole raison d’etre is taken away. We could see countless grassroots clubs lost.”

The British and Irish Lions legend admits it’s far from ideal, but it could get clubs over the hump so to speak.

“We have to remember, 99 per cent of rugby is amateur, run by volunteers and financially supported by members and local business.

“So could there be a hybrid solution to enable clubs to have a meaningful opportunity to open? I think so. It is far from ideal, and yes, it is not rugby as such. But it could be key for clubs whilst we transition from lockdown over the next season and beyond.”

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“It (no contact rugby) was great for core skills – kicking, passing, handling, catching – and ferociously competitive,” he says. “No, it was not rugby, but the players left training with smiles on their faces.

“Why not have such games to transition back into playing and encourage some hybrid competitions regionally with minimum expense?”

The pandemic is also a potential game-changer for next year’s tour of South Africa, with talk that it could even be ditched by the Home Nations unions involved.  Labeled the ‘ultimate’ Lion, McGeechan was appointed Head Coach for the 2009 tour to South Africa his fifth tour as a coach and his seventh overall with the Lions.

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