return to rugby

Following the government’s publication of a framework for return to recreational team sport, we have been working to accelerate the safe return of community rugby. 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 (‘DCMS’). The Return to Community Rugby Roadmap has been updated to show a move from Stage B to Stage C. 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. The return will initially be through non-contact rugby focused on Ready4Rugby, a non-contact game, enabling two teams of up to 10 players to engage in training and match activity in their own club environment. Subject to satisfactory operation through August we hope to then be able to move to inter-club Ready4Rugby in September. Other Touch Rugby activity (including O2 Touch centres) will also be able to recommence. 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. Unsurprisingly, the assessment highlighted a significantly increased risk in playing full-contact rugby and hence any form of contact rugby is still not permitted. We will continue to explore and analyse adaptations to the key high risk face to face contact areas and seek to identify safe and appropriate ways to bring these back, initially into training, and subsequently potentially into match play. This will be subject to further government approval and a further statement on this will be made should we reach this point.

RETURN TO RECREATIONAL SPORT

Below is a message received from Mike Priestley, Chair of the RFRU. For those who are not sure what RFRU stands for it is Rugby Football Referees Union. The Society is a member and the RFRU represents match officials to the RFU.

Following the Government announcement that the move towards a return to recreational sport is underway, the RFU has been developing its action plan for the restart of Rugby activity. Currently we remain at Phase B of the A- F phased plan so there is still some way to go.


As a consequence of the action plan ( which has to be submitted to the Government Department for Media, Culture and Sport) the process for the safe return of Rugby will be agreed.


In order to reassure the Match Officiating community, RFRU can confirm that this action plan includes key risk assessments covering on and off field activities and will include a section specific for Match Officials and the steps to take to mitigate risks. We envisage that this will include guidance on facilities ( changing etc), coin toss, kit checks, sanctioning players on field and socially distant positioning on field amongst other factors. We are fully engaged with our professional staff colleagues and will continue to be so in order to support you going forwards.


Much analysis is still ongoing to refine the action plan and when the Government sign off the RFU action plan, the game can move forward through the various stages towards full reintroduction. Of course the plan and any further guidance specific to Match Officials will be issued to you by RFRU as it becomes available.

Best Wishes

Mike Priestley
Chair RFRU

When is rugby back

Return to recreational team sport framework
The government has announced a framework for the return of recreational team sport which is applicable from Saturday 11 July. This is a welcomed development and a positive step towards the return of some form of competitive rugby. The framework was developed following discussions with other team sports, Sport England and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The next step is for the RFU to develop it’s own rugby action plan, based on the framework, specifically considering the Coronavirus transmission risk and demonstrating mitigations and any adaptations to the game that are required. This will need to be agreed to by government, PHE and HSE before it can be implemented within clubs. Due to the intrinsic nature of rugby and the proximity of participants, it is recognised that there is the potential for an increased risk of droplet transmission. Working with expert medical advice and applying the activity exposure framework to various formats of rugby, we will update following our discussions with government. In the short term, it is likely that the format of rugby the community game is able to play will be a modified version, not the full 15-a-side game.

We will update the game as to when it can move to the next stage of the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap in the coming weeks. For now we remain at Stage B of the roadmap.

Under previously announced guidance, Premiership Rugby clubs moved to Stage 2: Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance on Monday 6 July, which allows for the resumption of close contact training. This involves a detailed set of protocols and includes a COVID-19 testing programme. Championship and Premier 15s clubs are eligible to return under the elite guidance should they chose to do so, or can follow the community return to rugby roadmap.

We will continue to provide updates to the game throughout the process. Please click below to remind yourself of the RFU’s Return to Community Rugby Roadmap and read the latest framework for the return of recreational team sport announced by the government. To see the roadmap referred click on the black button above.

Centenary Kit: Final Reminder!

Just a final reminder that ALL orders for the special Centenary kit must be placed by midnight tonight, Friday 10th July, and for any additional items of kit ordered, payment must also be made by the same deadline!

In case you missed it the link is below

Thanks!

Message from RFU C.E.O. Bill Sweeney

A message to the rugby union community in England from Bill Sweeney, CEO RFU
My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country but also within our own rugby union community.

As you will be aware the long-term financial challenges are significant for the whole economy. We like many rugby clubs rely on revenue from matches and events at Twickenham Stadium and we re-invest this revenue back into the game.

Our detailed scenario modelling shows there may be a short-term impact of £107 million in lost revenues and we also know there will be a much longer-term effect. We are projecting a 4-5 year recovery with cumulative revenue reductions of around 20%.

We are having to make difficult decisions on what we can continue to invest in as well as what is the right size and shape of our business for the future. To ensure we have a sustainable RFU we have announced to colleagues that it is proposed that the total number of roles across the organisation will reduce by 139.

This will be a difficult process, but we will be consulting with colleagues in a fair way to completely remodel our business. This will mean we will need to work very differently in future however, the whole organisation will be focussed on our priorities which are:

• Supporting the community game and our member clubs – which are the life blood of our game.

• Maintaining our ability to compete and win in the performance arena.

• Delivering on our purpose of enriching lives, introducing more people and more diversity to rugby union while developing the sport for future generations.


The consultation process with colleagues will enable them to share their views and ideas on re-shaping the business ahead of any decisions being announced at the end of August.

We have already made some significant cost savings. We furloughed 60% of our organisation; implemented a three month pay reduction which has been extended for some; introduced pension pauses; and refined business planning and introduced stadium and office running efficiencies to reduce costs.

Unfortunately, this is not enough to run a sustainable operation and safeguard our future. We need to maintain our organisation for the long term, this is not a short-term cost reduction exercise, the RFU will still stand, but the impact of Covid19 will continue to affect us for many years to come.

These are difficult times for us all but despite the adversity, I have been truly heartened by the spirit of rugby – seeing everyone pull together to help their local community and those most in need.
Thank you for everything you are doing to reflect the best of our game and be assured we are committed to continue supporting you.

With regards,

Bill Sweeney