Return to Community Rugby Roadmap - Remains at Stage D
The RFU uses a national roadmap to support a return to community rugby activity. This roadmap consists of 6 stages. Stage A relating to individual training with one other person, moving through to Stage F when there can be a return to competitive matches against other teams.
The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed, as part of a safe and phased return to grassroots rugby activity, that we remain at Stage D. The Return to Community Rugby Roadmap reflects this.
WHAT IS PERMISSIBLE AT STAGE D
Clubs are able to have limited and restricted contact rugby training and organise inter-club non-contact fixtures. Clubs must continue to follow government Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines, along with any local government lockdown restrictions that may be introduced.
In particular, all club officials and coaches should refer to the club guidance, ensuring that they have appointed an individual or small team to check that all Covid-19 procedures are adhered to; including undertaking the appropriate risk assessments. A generic RFU risk assessment form can be found here to cover the normal risks and in the current circumstances clubs must also complete this Covid-19 specific risk assessment.
Contact Training Allowed. Varied training conditions will allow the return of tackling, lineouts and rucks, ensuring players are prepared to perform these skills safely and effectively with some restrictions. Mauls, scrums, opposed lineouts or upright tackles are not permissible as the transmission exposure risk remains high. Contact training sessions have to be carried out in small groups of no more than 6 players. Detail of the permitted training activity is available in this Return to Contact Training Guidance and this infographic.
Within each training session a maximum of 15 minutes is allowed for all contact training activities (75 minutes being the total maximum time for each session).
Non- Contact Activity Allowed. In the remainder of the training session, players are permitted to undertake socially distanced strength and conditioning activities, small group non-contact skill development drills, Touch or Ready4Rugby games (the only other permitted game training activity).
Ready4Rugby is a non-contact game, enabling two teams of up to 10 players to engage in training and match activity in their own club environment. Full details and resources, can be found here. All coaches should familiarise themselves with the Ready4Rugby Game Rules, but other non-contact training activities within the numbers permitted can be undertaken. The actual numbers allowed will vary from club to club as it will depend on the size of the facility and the number of pitches. All should be able to remain socially distanced as per the government's guidelines, except when on a pitch where there can be up to 20 individuals in a training group on each half of a pitch. Coaches must ensure that social distancing is then enforced as the players leave the pitch. Clubs may wish to consider staggering training sessions to reduce numbers on site and to reduce the risk of transmission. See also section below on the need for record keeping of those attending organised activities at your club.
Inter Club Non-Contact Fixtures. Clubs are also allowed to organise non-contact fixtures against other clubs using Ready4Rugby or other Touch formats, but should ensure they are appropriately set up and prepared for safely welcoming other clubs and individuals to their venues. GRFU strongly encourages you to arrange such fixtures against other local clubs for your adult players and age grade players (see more information below), subject to the Covid-19 requirements.
Record Keeping. Clubs must keep details of players and others who attend training sessions or other organised rugby events for 21 days. This information may be required by the NHS Test & Trace organisation if somebody tests positive for Covid-19 and have been in contact with one of your players.
While the launch of the NHS / Government app now allows individuals to self-login at locations, clubs should consider the use of an additional system, based specifically on the club, which allows club officials to track all that have been at the club. There are a number of systems now available (including a paper record) and clubs should consider which the most appropriate system is for them. The RFU’s insurance brokers, Howdens, offer once such system, but at a cost. Details of the Howden's Track and Trace System can be found at the link.
If one of your players, coaches etc reports having tested positive for Covid-19, the RFU has produced this overview guidance to be used if a player, coach or visitor to the club reports a positive Covid-19 test. The RFU Notification Link is here.
Visitors & Supporters. Fixtures between clubs are likely to attract supporters and parents. Clubs, therefore, must ensure they are set up and prepared for safely welcoming them, following the Government's Guidelines for social distancing. Outdoors people can meet in a group of 6 people from different households. This equally applies to players etc when they finish their rugby activity and leave the pitch.
Clubs are required to have a named person or persons responsible for ensuring adherence with these guidelines and ensuring the facility is Covid-19 secure. The person(s) should carry out and publish a risk assessment for the activity which limits the number of spectators and focuses on the need to maintain social distancing on arrival, for the duration of the activity, and on departure. Arrangements must also be put in place to support test and trace efforts by collecting information from spectators which is detailed enough to allow NHS Test and Trace to contact them if necessary. Read this maintaining records guidance section for further information.
Opening Your Facilities. The RFU has produced guidance for rugby clubs to help determine the most appropriate way forward as well as detailed resources on risk, facility reopening checklists and how to create an action plan. From 24 September 2020 clubs face far stricter rules to make their premises Covid-19 secure with fines up to £10,000 for breaches; these rules now include:
• Food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table, and customers must eat and drink at that table.
• The wearing of face masks is compulsory for bar staff and waiters. In addition, customers will need to wear a mask when inside a club, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
• Clubs must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
• Clubs selling food or drink must be closed between 10pm and 5am each day until further notice. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm.
• Clubs will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using the app rolled out nationally as an alternative to providing their contact details.
• Clubs must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
AGE GRADE RUGBY
Age Grade players are allowed to participate in the same contact and non-contact activities as their adult counterparts, set out above, except where rucks, lineouts and tackling are not allowed under the rules of play the age group normally plays to (U13s and below).
Ready4Rugby is suitable with some adaptions for U18s down to U9s (see the Ready4Rugby Game Rules). As with adults, GRFU strongly encourages you to arrange such fixtures against other local clubs for your age grade players, subject to the Covid-19 requirements, particularly for parents and spectators (see above for information).
Do also remember that RFU Regulation 15 still applies to all age grade rugby and, in particular, in terms of the length of training sessions, application of the half-game rule, and safeguarding requirements.
As we have not progressed pased beyond Stage D yet, the RFU has announced that all RFU Age Grade competitions have been cancelled for this season. This includes the National Schools Cup & Champions Trophy, the U18(Boys) Clubs Cup, the U15(Girls) and the U18(Girls) Clubs Cups, and the ACE League.
The RFU has also announced that the Age Grade season can be extended and will now end on 31 May 21 as a one off.
ADULT LEAGUE RUGBY
As stated above, we are at Stage D on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap. We have to reach Stage F (which will not be reached until at least four weeks after Stage E) before full contact competitive league rugby can commence. As a result of the current position and to give clubs some certainty over the next few months, the RFU has announced that the adult league season (Level 3 & below for men, Level 2 & below for women) will not commence before January 2021 at the earliest.
The RFU continues to be in active discussions with the government abou moving to Stage E on the Roadmap. Should this point be reached before Christmas competive friendly matches could commence.
This timetable also applies to our Wadworth and District Leagues for clubs' 2nd & lower XVs.
All the applicable advice issued by the RFU can be found here.