RFU Return to Community Rugby
The RFU has announced a national roadmap to support a return to community rugby activity.
This roadmap consists of six 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. We are currently at Stage B following the government’s announcement of 28 May, which allows organised fitness training in groups of 6 (including a coach / organiser), but no contact whatsoever with social distancing of at least 2 metres between each player, minimising the sharing of equipment, and lots of hand hygiene.
CURRENT NON - CONTACT ACTIVITY
At Stage B, the current stage, it is important that clubs, as advised by the RFU, undertake a risk assessment before beginning any organised training to consider the risks from Covid-19 and how to mitigate them by following the appropriate guidelines, as well as considering any other risks (hardness of grounds, potential injuries and how they can be mitigated with suitable types of exercise and first aid cover being in place).
A generic RFU risk assessment form can be found here to cover the normal risks and how the club will comply with the Minimum First Aid Requirements. In addition, in the current circumstances clubs must also complete this Covid-19 specific risk assessment. In completing this you should also refer to the RFU's Returning to Play Guidance, which explains the precautions that must be taken. Note, in particular, that the group of 6 (the maximum size allowed) includes a coach / supervisor, and that group of 6 cannot meet again, or with another similar group of 6, for at least 24 hours. The RFU has also produced this coach guidance, including a webinar to watch, to assist coaches and clubs in planning and running apropriate small group activity during this stage of the return to rugby. Resources can be found here.
The RFU is also working on guidance for clubs regarding off field activities and facilities. When it is available we will link it to this article.
In addition, all relevant RFU Regulations must be adhered to. In particular, see the section below if considering age grade activities.
The normal RFU insurance cover is in place for any club-organised training as long as the club adheres to RFU regulations and its latest Covid-19 guidance.
Timescales to allow progression between stages will be carefully managed and will be determined by medical and government advice. Regular updates will be issued by the RFU, along with detailed guidance, as each progression takes place.
At the moment, you cannot progress past Stage B
CURRENT AGE GRADE ACTIVITIES
RFU Regulation 15 must be complied with when considering age grade activities. This means that during the present "out of season" period all age grade players can undertake non-contact training, but they must choose to do so. In other words, they cannot be pressurised into do so, it must be their choice. Please read the RFU Guide to Out Of Season Activities. In addition, the training must be in line with the RFU's latest Covid-19 guidance as set out above. As always, the Age Grade Codes of Practice and RFU Safeguarding Policy still apply.
RE-OPENING OF CLUB FACILITIES
As restrictions across the country begin to ease the RFU has produced resources for the re-opening of clubhouses and facilities; those resources, including risk assessments and checklists, can be found here.
RETURN TO ADULT COMPETITIVE PLAYING (2020/21 SEASON)
Competition models are based on three potential start windows depending on when it becomes safe to return to play (ie at Stage F on the RFU's Return to Roadmap). The models vary according to league size and offer flexibility to manage any potential Covid-19 interruptions, with the season able to be extended to the end of May if it helps support delivery of a meaningful competition. To further support clubs with flexibility, league rugby will be prioritised over Cup and County Championships.
To best manage the uncertainties around a start date, leagues will be split into conferences from the start of the season (ie a 14 team league will be split into 2 groups of 7 teams, and a 10 team league into 2 groups of 6 teams). In most cases the conferences will be organised geographically to keep travel down to a minimum in the early part of the season, which could also present the opportunity for more revenue generating derby/local fixtures and support player availability.
Infographics detailing the return to rugby for the adult game have been created to help explain the models:
- Details on the competition strucure for men at levels five and lower as well as the women's game, can be found here.
- A full list of FAQs around the return to the adult game can be found here.
It is expected that indicative fixture lists will be issued in the week commencing 13 Jul 20. However, these will only be indicative and dependent on when contact rugby is allowed to return.
RETURN TO AGE GRADE COMPETITIVE PLAYING (2020/21 SEASON)
The start of the Age Grade rugby season will be dictated by reaching Stage F on the RFU's Return to Rugby Roadmap. The aim is to maximise participation and retain as many current age grade players of all ages and levels as possible. In the event of a delayed start to the season, the season is able to be extended to the end of May as a one off to support delivery of meaningful activity. In all the scenarios, player welfare and safety is a priority and activity must continue to be in line with Regulation 15, the Age Grade Codes of Practice and Safeguarding Policy. Players should complete a staged progression aligned with Return to Rugby Roadmap Stage E to be fully contact-ready before playing contact matches. The Age Grade Playing Calendar 2020-21 and associated regulation remains as scheduled for the season including Player Pathway (DPP, CB and Academy) activity.
- A list of full recommendations for the restart of Age Grade can be found here.
- <span style="mso-fareast-font-family:" times="" new="" calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-language:en-gb"="">A list of FAQs around the return to age grade rugby can be found here.