Return to competitive play in 2020/21 season delayed to January 2021 earliest
Under powers delegated by Council, the RFU Governance Committee today made a difficult decision that, with the exception of Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s rugby, no organised* RFU or non-RFU Leagues including merit tables, adult or age grade competitions will be played before January 2021 at the earliest.
With the increased uncertainly caused by Government’s additional restrictions to curb the increase in Covid-19 cases across the country, the decision has been made so that we can provide clubs with some certainty over the next few months.
The rugby community can continue to organise non-contact fixtures with other clubs using Ready4Rugby and other touch rugby activity. Limited and restricted contact rugby training can also be continued.
The RFU continues to be in active dialogue with government about moving to Stage E on the Roadmap should we reach this point at any time before Christmas, competitive friendly matches could commence.
The Adult and Age Grade Competitions Groups will be making recommendations to Governance on what they can do to ensure that any competitions from January are meaningful, including whether to make changes to the structured season.
Governance also agreed that any decision to suspend promotion and relegation for the 2020/21 season would be referred to Council once the nature of the competitions is known.
Further guidance will be provided in due course to support clubs, schools, colleges and universities in playing to the relevant stage of the appropriate Roadmap stage.
Jeff Blackett, RFU President, comments: “We are very keen to see competitive rugby being played again. However, given the introduction of further restrictions to curb the increase in Covid-19 cases, we will not be able to move to Stage F on the Roadmap until a later date. This announcement gives clubs clarity over the immediate term to help them with their planning. We will continue to liaise with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Public Health England to accelerate a return to competitive play as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Although social gatherings of more than six people were banned in England from Monday 14 September and a number of local lockdown restrictions put in place in some areas of the country, the Government has confirmed that organised sports and activities that have been through return to play protocols can continue. With the exception of clubs impacted by local lockdown restrictions, we continue at Stage D on the Roadmap.
Clubs in areas where additional local lockdown measures have been introduced may need to limit their activities in line with any local restrictions. All are advised to consult with their local authority should they be in any doubt.
*Organised competition in this instance includes any competition organised by the RFU, its delegated competition organising committees, or any other league or cup organiser.
A Message from Bill Sweeney
RFU CEO Bill Sweeney’s statement regarding the financial impact on the RFU and the wider game if matches at Twickenham Stadium are played behind closed doors.
Local lockdown guidelines
Clubs are reminded that the powers around local restrictions lie with their local authorities.
We are advised that unless local restrictions specifically mention restrictions on team sports and/or rugby, clubs should follow the NGB guidelines. In all cases, clubs must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with Covid-19 secure guidance.
Spectators, including parents, must abide by the Rule of Six, as defined by the Government’s current advice on staying safe and social distancing, which you can read below
This currently includes the following areas, however, clubs in each of the areas below need to be aware of the impact of any local restrictions applicable to their individual area. More information regarding the impact on each area is available in a detailed schedule via the link below.
- Greater Manchester
- North East of England
- North West of England
- West Midlands
- West Yorkshire
Clubs may need to limit their activities in line with any local restrictions and all are advised to consult with the local authority in which their facilities are located should they be in any doubt. Information regarding any new local lockdown restrictions will be posted on the Government website below.
We will provide an update to the game if there is any change in guidance to playing rugby union. You can read more information on the Government local lockdown updates.
Update regarding revised Covid-19 guidelines
In addition to local lockdown measures already in place, the Government announced further restrictions this week aimed at curbing the rise in coronavirus cases in England. Once we have fully assessed their impact, we will provide more detailed guidance to support clubs.
In the meantime, we wanted to highlight the following important changes to these guidelines, which you can read via the link below:
From Thursday 24 September:
• With the exception of those clubs impacted by restrictions already in place in local lockdown areas, in licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.
• Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume indoors, on site.
• 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 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.
From Monday 28 September:
Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises Covid-19 Secure:
• Clubs must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
• Clubs must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
• A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the Covid-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
Community rugby – current status
Although social gatherings of more than six people were banned in England from Monday 14 September and a number of local lockdown restrictions have been put in place in some areas of the country, the Government has confirmed that organised sports and activities that have been through return to play protocols can continue. With the exception of clubs impacted by local lockdown restrictions, we continue at Stage D on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap. The rugby community can continue to organise non-contact fixtures with other clubs using Ready4Rugby, which you can read more about in the link below, and other touch rugby activity.
Limited and restricted contact rugby training can also be continued. Details of the permitted training activity are available in the return to contact training guidance link below.
Clubs should continue to follow current guidance of no more than 20 players per half pitch in training.
Webinars and podcasts
Eddie Jones Coaching Podcast
This week Joe Roff, Rugby World Cup winner and ex-Australia back, is featured on the Eddie Jones Coaching Podcast, and you can listen below.
Good Club Governance Webinar | Thursday 1 October at 7pm
The next webinar in the Club Support legal series with Irwin Mitchell will cover good club governance. During this event we will discuss what good governance looks like, as well as providing top tips for your club – you can register below.
Catch-up on what leaders and experts in the rugby family have to say.