The return of recreational rugby in England has been given the go-ahead by the government after it approved the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) action plan for phased resumption.
Due to its very physical nature, rugby union has been one of the sports hardest hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The return of recreational rugby in clubs, schools and colleges will initially be on a non-contact basis.
“Today we can confirm that our action plan to commence a safe and phased return to grassroots rugby activity has been approved by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport,” an RFU statement said.
“The rugby community is now able to recommence some larger group rugby activity, initially non-contact, subject to adherence with RFU guidance.”
The return will focus on Ready4Rugby, a non-contact game involving teams of up to 10 players to engage in training and match activity within their own club environment. Inter-club activity could return in September.
Full-contact rugby still remains a way off, however, after a detailed assessment carried out by the RFU found an increased exposure risk through face-to-face contact.
Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director, said the return to group activity was an important step.
“Whilst we recognise that there will be some disappointment that the 15-a-side contact game cannot yet return, player welfare and safety is paramount and we must continue to manage risk appropriately,” he said.
“The reaction of our community clubs over the last few months has been amazing, with many doing incredible work in their local communities.
“We are now delighted that they will be able to put some effort back into getting rugby activity underway.”