Published: 14:32, 04 June 2020
| Updated: 14:39, 04 June 2020
The RFU have issued a road map for the return of community rugby.
A national road map, announced today (Thursday), gives guidance on how the game can resume safely. Teams can now train in small groups and the RFU warn that this could be the way it stays for some time.
The game's governing body say they will take guidance from medical experts on the risk of spreading Covid-19 through face-to-face contact between individuals, the ball and other equipment. In addition, they accept that the 2020/21 season could be shortened.
League seasons generally begin in early September. Alternative dates for re-commencing the sport have been identified as the end of October or the beginning of November.
Coronavirus put a stop to rugby activity on March 16 and days later the RFU called an end to competitions.
The RFU may also consider temporary law amendments to the game, as a way to enable some activity if the game’s return is delayed. It’s previously been suggested that the game could be played with no scrums, tackles or mauling, with shorter matches.
Their road map consists of six stages, A to F, but say they could jump a stage if it's possible to do so.
Individual training (stage A) started on May 13 when it became permissible for rugby club pitches to be opened for two individuals to meet together, two metres apart, for fitness training.
From June 1, it’s been possible to move onto stage B, which is where they are now at, with individual training in small groups. Six individuals from different households can meet up.
Equipment sharing they say, should be kept to a minimum and the RFU make it clear that “as physical contact with anyone outside of your house is currently not permitted, playing of any games (small sided or full) is also not permitted at this time.”
Multiple small groups can train at the same facility, at the same time, but the RFU say that no more than one group should be active on each quarter of any pitch.
Their road map says: “It is possible that we may remain at stage B for a while with potential amendments coming within the stage to reflect any revised government position. This could include, for example, an enlargement of the number of people permitted.”
Stage C would involve more interactive activity, with larger groups, but the amount of close contact would be time limited.
They say a move to stage D would be triggered “by a more significant relaxation of social distancing measures and when the risk element of typical rugby training activities that involve close and face-to-face contact and the typical physical contact of rugby training is deemed acceptable.”
Once the RFU deem it possible to move onto stage E - to prepare for a return to action - the advice is that a minimum of four weeks will be required before a return to playing (stage F).
Clubs are currently unable to use their clubhouses for group activities other than for access or for using toilet facilities, although food can be served to take away.