RFU says grassroots playing return in England approved by DCMS


RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney says the return of grassroots rugby provides “optimism in a difficult time”

The Rugby Football Union says the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has approved a plan for the return of grassroots rugby in England.

The next phase involves “enabling two teams of up to 10 players” to play on a non-contact basis “in their own club environment” during August.

This could then move on to matches between different clubs in September.

“It’s a step in the direction of getting there,” RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney told BBC Sport.

“It gives us a bit of optimism in a difficult time.”

A statement from the RFU read: “The rugby community is now able to recommence some larger group rugby activity, initially non-contact, subject to adherence with RFU guidance.

“Any return 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.”

However, a return to full-contact 15-a-side rugby is still a way off.

“In developing the action plan, the RFU was required to undertake a detailed assessment of exposure risk through face-to-face contact across both contact and non-contact rugby,” added the RFU statement.

“Unsurprisingly, the assessment highlighted a significantly increased risk in playing full-contact rugby and hence any form of contact rugby is still not permitted.”

In terms of the professional game, the Premiership season is set to resume on Friday, 14 August, when Harlequins take on Sale.