With three days to go before club’s have to make a decision regarding their participation in the NCA Cup competition, it is extremely positive to have witnessed an overwhelming majority of teams wanting to take part. Photo Credit: (Shawn Pearce)

This, from an NCA point of view, is an exciting step in the right direction and Chairman John Inverdale said: “I have been genuinely delighted by such an outstanding response and we will be doing everything within our power to put the format of the competition together over the course of the next couple of weeks.

“Obviously there are issues with a lot of clubs being involved in Tier Three at the moment and we are waiting for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to make decisions on certain aspects of the game going forward.

“What we can genuinely say, though, is that we can see light at the end of the tunnel and we can see the day when the club’s at levels three and four will be back to their bustling, vibrant and dynamic selves again.”

Our chairman has also welcomed the news regarding the return of spectators to rugby union.

At the beginning of the month, John was hopeful that potentially 600 people could attend NCA Cup matches in the New Year, but following the Government’s announcement earlier this week, a maximum of 4,000 fans will be allowed at outdoor events in the lowest-risk areas when lockdown in England ends on December 2nd.

Next weekend, Twickenham will host 2,000 fans for England’s final Autumn Nations Cup clash , with 400 seats going to NHS workers.

This is, of course, is excellent news for rugby union, but the NCA is aware the Government’s tier system will throw up a number of questions for our clubs.

The tiering system may change on December 16th and there are a lot of issues which DCMS will be making a decision on next week (December 2nd) including around team sports for clubs in Tier Three.

The NCA will wait for their definitive answers and we hope to hear from them over the coming days as Government guidelines become clearer.

In addition, from next Wednesday, National League clubs will be able to resume rugby activity. Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger confirmed this week this will certainly be at Stage D on the Return to Play Roadmap and the RFU are also “very optimistic” that in the next few days, they will be able to conclude discussions with Government that will see us return to an adapted format of the XV-a-side-game.

This will be without scrums & mauls and the RFU continue to be in extensive conversations with the Government about the adaptations for our levels, which Grainger confirms, are very different ‘return to play’ protocols to the rules currently being implemented in the Allianz Premier 15s.

We will continue to update our clubs in due course. As ever, we thank you for your support.