Grassroots rugby in England won’t return until January 2021 at the earliest following the latest RFU assessment of the sport. It follows the latest restrictions announced this week by the UK Government to curb the increasing number of coronavirus cases, measures that included the pausing of the pilot system that had seen fans attend two September Premiership games.
An RFU statement on the delay to the start of the 2020/21 grassroots season read: “Under powers delegated by council, the RFU governance committee have made the difficult decision that, with the exception of Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s rugby, no organised RFU or non-RFU Leagues including merit tables, adult or age grade competitions will be played before January 2021 at the earliest.
“With the increased uncertainly caused by Government’s additional restrictions to curb the increase in Covid-19 cases across the country, the decision has been made so that we can provide clubs with some certainty over the next few months.
“The rugby community can continue to organise non-contact fixtures with other clubs using Ready4Rugby and other touch rugby activity. Limited and restricted contact rugby training can also be continued.
“The RFU continues to be in active dialogue with government about moving to Stage E on the roadmap should we reach this point at any time before Christmas, competitive friendly matches could commence.
A return to competitive play for the community game has been delayed until January 2021 at the earliest.
All the details ?
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) September 24, 2020
“The adult and age grade competitions groups will be making recommendations to governance on what they can do to ensure that any competitions from January are meaningful, including whether to make changes to the structured season.”
RFU president Jeff Blackett added: “We are very keen to see competitive rugby being played again. However, given the introduction of further restrictions to curb the increase in Covid-19 cases, we will not be able to move to Stage F on the roadmap until a later date.
“This announcement gives clubs clarity over the immediate term to help them with their planning. We will continue to liaise with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Public Health England to accelerate a return to competitive play as soon as it is safe to do so.”
"If we have to go another six to nine months like this, it will be absolutely devastating"
– England's nuclear warning ??
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 24, 2020
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