Grassroots rugby moves a step closer to returning after RFU publish plans

Harpenden RFC vs Romford & Gidea Park RFC

A return to full grassroots rugby moved a step closer following the publication of the RFU's return to rugby roadmap. - Credit: DAVID SIMPSON/TGS PHOTO

The RFU anticipate that full-contact grassroots rugby will have to wait until June at the earliest but they have given the green light for adapted versions of the game to be played from this month. 

The government announcement last month indicate grassroot team sports could start again on March 29 and after a week of discussions, the top brass for rugby in England have redrafted their return to community rugby roadmap. 

The RFU has issued a new roadmap for the return of grassroots rugby in 2021

The RFU has issued a new roadmap for the return of grassroots rugby in 2021. - Credit: RFU

The roadmap summarises the six-stage process for a phased return to full contact rugby, subject to each step on the government's own plan being met. 

The roadmap starts on March 29 with clubs able to hold contact training sessions, excluding scrums and mauls, and host Ready4Rugby, touch and tag rugby matches against other clubs. 

This applies to adult and younger players but insists "contact should be built incrementally and RFU guidance states that training sessions should not exceed 20 minutes of contact at this stage". 

Games with adapted laws, no scrums or mauls, are scheduled for April 26 although it will be the choice of clubs and players as to whether they start these or stick with other formats like touch and tag. 

The introduction of mauls and scrums will only come when step three on the government roadmap is reached, and there will be a two-week buffer before they appear in games. 

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A full return will come when the government roadmap reaches step four, provisionally set for June. 

RFU director Steve Grainger said: “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 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. 

"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.” 

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