Wed 12 Jan 2022 17:59

Following the government’s announcement that organised outdoor sport can resume from Monday 29 March, the RFU has 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 to guide rugby coaches and players through the return process from now, to Ready4Rugby, O2 Touch and limited contact training sessions at the end of March, to full contact matches anticipated in June.

As previously confirmed, the 2020/21 league structure has already been cancelled. However, as in normal years, rugby clubs will be able to host friendly fixtures in the adult game during summer months if they wish. 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.

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 will include 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 local 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. 

When Step Three on the government roadmap is reached, it is planned for community rugby to move to full contact training, including scrums and mauls. This is Stage E1 on the roadmap. Two weeks after Stage E1 has been reached, full contact matches can  begin. (Stage E2 on the rugby roadmap).

Community Rugby will move to the final Stage, F, when the government roadmap reaches Step Four, provisionally in June, at which time we anticipate all remaining restrictions will be lifted.  

The current age grade season will end on 31 May, however the age grade out of season regulations will be suspended for 2021 and replaced with a range of permitted non-contact and contact training and playing.

The purpose of this is to support player safety, contact preparation and player retention for any out of season age grade activities. The process for 17-year-olds playing adult rugby is suspended from now until Saturday 1 January 2022. These are some of the players at greatest safety and retention risk due to the rugby they have missed.

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