The RFU today announces 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.

An infographic and more detailed guidance has been produced to clarify the six stages of the roadmap.

You can now to access the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap as well as download a .pdf with detailed 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.

Bill Sweeney, Chief Executive Officer at the RFU, comments:

“A great amount of work has been undertaken since rugby was suspended in March to align the various stages of social distancing announced by the government with our decision making focused on the best interests of players, volunteers and clubs. 

“When considering the roadmap for a return to community rugby, we were aware that some clubs wanted to get back quicker than others as a major concern of clubs is to retain their players and preserve their revenue streams.  We also recognise that other sports may return quicker in England and that rugby may return quicker in other countries.  However, we will stay focused on what is right for rugby in England. Whilst we are keen to have rugby being played and members returning to their clubs, we need to be cautious and will therefore only move from one stage to another when guidance and advice says that it is safe to do so.

“There are many implications of a staged return to play, including the impact on the competitive programme, rugby activity in clubs, schools, colleges and universities and also the use of club houses and indoor facilities. We remain committed to addressing these challenges in the run up to the 20/21 season.”

The roadmap focuses on a return to community rugby activity and not the reopening of clubhouses. As these are indoor spaces, they will be subject to separate government advice and guidance. In parallel, the RFU will continue to develop advice and guidance on when and how clubhouses may reopen. The current position is that clubs are able to open indoor facilities only to allow access through the building to pitches, access to toilets and a facility (should appropriate licenses be held) for the serving of takeaway food and drinks.

Adult Male Future Competitions Structure Online Consultations Launched

To create a competition structure which meets the needs of current and future rugby players, the RFU this week launched a series of nine online consultation webinars which will run throughout June. Clubs and players from across the country, and at different levels of the game, will be presented with findings from the work undertaken by the Adult Competition Future Structure Group, a direction of travel and different options of what the season will look like.

This virtual process follows January’s Adult Male Future Competitions Structure Survey which attracted more than 6,000 responses.

A huge amount of evidence has been reviewed over the last nine months, including input received through listening panels, surveys, correspondence and by reviewing participation data, conducting deep-dive case studies with clubs and Constituent Bodies. Trends impacting other sports and international rugby unions have also been taken into consideration.

A range of options for future competition structures have been considered against the four important principles used for evaluating and assessing the benefits of change. These are that the competition structure is player-centric, is considerate of the time and distance involved in playing fixtures, enhances the player’s experience and the integrity of the competition and is supportive of the financial and sustainability of participating clubs.   

Feedback on proposals, which include reducing league sizes in a number of instances, introducing league break weekends, and organising leagues to minimise travel for teams, is essential to ensure a transformational structure which meets the game’s needs.

Final proposals will be communicated for further consultation with the wider game later in the summer, ahead of any RFU Council decision on 2 October 2020, for implementation in the 2021/22 season.

Bill Sweeney, Chief Executive Officer at the RFU, comments:

“We can see from participation trends and data that players are playing less fixtures each season and are choosing to play fewer matches for a number of lifestyle reasons. Demands on players’ time through changing socio-economic factors is not the same as it was 20 years ago. Our current playing offer puts pressure on players and clubs to fulfil fixtures, undermining the sustainability of the game.

“We now have the opportunity to establish a competition structure across the game to serve the interests of all of our players and clubs and underpin our game for the future.”