National League clubs will be able to begin limited and restricted contact rugby training as well as organise inter-club non-contact fixtures after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport approved a move from Stage C to Stage D in The Return to Community Rugby Roadmap.
The reinstatement of some contact activity from September 1st will allow players to practice core skills and added to this, they will be able to start preparing and conditioning themselves appropriately as the game starts to return to normality with regular training and matches.
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 still not allowed as the transmission exposure risk remains high. Contact training sessions have to be carried out in small groups of no more than six players and within each training session, a maximum of 15 minutes will be allowed for all contact training activities
Detail of the permitted training activity is available in the return to contact training guidance.
Clubs are also now able to organise non-contact fixtures with other clubs using Ready4Rugby or other Touch formats and should ensure they are appropriately set up and prepared for safely welcoming other clubs and individuals to their venues.
Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director said: “It’s great news for the game that we’re able to get back to contact training in the community game with some limitations. It’s another step on the journey to a return to full contact rugby although we still have a way to go before we will return to our full programme of competition.
“For rugby union to continue a phased return, there are some fundamental skills that players need to perform, develop and maintain to ensure that they can play in a safe and effective way when a return to contact rugby match play is permitted.
“During the lockdown period all rugby union activity in the community game was suspended from April through to August, resulting over 20 weeks when players have been unable to perform, develop and maintain these fundamental skills.
“Allowing limited contact activity will provide an opportunity for players to sustain these skills, physically prepare for the reintroduction of competitive rugby appropriately, reducing the potential risk of injury whilst also mitigating the infection risk through restricting the type and amount of contact activity.
“Although there is no confirmed timeline for the return of full-contact competitive match play, we will provide an update to the game about competitions as planned on 1 September.”
Any return to play and training is a decision for individual clubs to make and they must continue to follow government Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines, along with any local government lockdown restrictions that may be introduced.