The NCA has welcomed the news from the Rugby Football Union and Government regarding a return to 15-a-side contact rugby, with some adaptations. (Photo Credit: Chris Fell)

This follows the Government’s announcement last week that outdoor team sport can resume from Wednesday 2 December.

This latest update represents another small step in the right direction and makes the outlook a little bit clearer for all our clubs going forward.

By using the temporary law variations, this will limit the risk of prolonged face-to-face contact, allowing the community game to resume (everything below the Greene King IPA Championship and Allianz Premier 15s).

Clubs will be able to begin adapted training from tomorrow, Wednesday 2 December, in preparation for local friendly fixtures recommencing from Friday 18 December, when the following law variations will come into effect. These will also apply to the NCA Cup competition for which more than 90 per cent of clubs have entered:

  • There will be no scrums or mauls in the game.
  • Instead of a scrum, the game will begin with a free kick. This free kick cannot be taken quickly.
  • A minimum of five and a maximum of seven players from each team are required to form a lineout.
  • A team awarded a penalty or free kick will no longer be able to choose a scrum option.
  • A team awarded a penalty or free kick at a lineout can instead choose another lineout at the same mark.

Further details on the variations (Law 5 – Time, Law 16 – Maul, Law 18 – Lineout, Law 19 – Scrum, Law 20 – Penalty and Free Kick) can be found here:

A video explanation can be found here.

These law variations will be reviewed as the season progresses and as restrictions change.

Clubs in all tiers will be able to return to Stage E on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap. Further guidance on travel within/between tiers will be issued following publication of government guidance.

RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger said: “We are delighted that our submission has been approved to return to a format of 15 a-side rugby and we thank Government for working with us to find a solution that enables the safe return of the community game.

“In recent months, we have received growing support from clubs and players in favour of adaptations, with law variations preferable to the option of no rugby at all. This is wonderful news for community clubs, their volunteers, players and supporters around the country, who can now look forward to playing contact rugby for the first time since March.

“We now need to be as safe as we possibly can be and comply with all off-field social distancing and Covid-secure guidance to ensure we can continue our phased return to full contact rugby when it is safe to do so.”

England Head Coach Eddie Jones added: “I know how much work has gone into getting international rugby back.

“Having community rugby back is the next step in getting the game up and running and I am pleased for everyone involved in the community game, which has gone through a very tough time.

“They can now get excited about having rugby back in their lives.”