Community Game update

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) update This week’s headlines include the Government Winter Sport Package funding and positive news that grassroots sport, including a format of rugby, will be allowed to resume from Wednesday 2 December across all levels, although there will be some restrictions across the tiers.

Both topics are discussed in more detail in our video below with RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger.

You can also read a summary below. However, as we are awaiting confirmation from Government on tier, travel and contact implications, we will provide a more detailed update to the game later this week.

In today’s edition, we also bring you news on how immigration could affect rugby clubs, an update on the latest #GetYourShirtOn virtual rugby sessions and share a message from England players on why they love seeing your club shirts at Twickenham in #ShowYourShirt. Can you spot your club shirt in the gallery below?

Finally, there are reminders about our Club Support Centre during Covid, and how your friends and family can support your club by watching England for free on Amazon Prime Video.

Please remember that until Wednesday 2 December we remain at Stage A on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap, meaning no competitive or formal rugby activities can be undertaken, including club age grade and adult rugby activities below Championship and Premier 15s. Steve Grainger Video  
  RFU Headlines Government Winter Sport Package Last week Government announced a £300 million funding package for all sports, which will consist of £250m in loans and £50m in grants. Funding has been made available to help the survival of sports who have lost revenue due to spectators not being able to attend matches.

Rugby union has received an allocation of up to £135 million. Within this total amount, the RFU has been allocated up to £44 million, Premiership clubs up to £59 million, Greene King IPA Championship clubs up to £9 million and a further £23 million has been allocated to clubs below that level.

The news is a massive boost for the game. We are the only sport to have dedicated funding for our community game, which has been on hold since March and hit hard by the pandemic.

The funding must be applied for and justified against certain criteria to be defined and is, therefore, not guaranteed.

We will continue to work with Government to understand the details of the application process, the criteria under which submissions will be measured, and the composition of the independent panel and delivery mechanism. We will update you on this process in the coming weeks.

Our thanks go to everyone we consulted with in the game for your feedback, allowing us to provide clear and detailed submissions, and to Government for understanding the need to support rugby via a financial programme.  
  Return to Team Sports We welcome Monday’s announcement from Government that grassroots sport will be able to resume from Wednesday 2 December and that spectators at non-elite sports will be able to attend events in line with Covid-secure guidance for each tier.

Tier levels for each region are due to be announced by Government later this week.

As you can imagine, there are a number of details which we need to confirm with Government regarding restrictions that apply to each tier, including permitted levels of contact, travel and implications for club facilities.

We will, therefore, provide a further game update when this information has been received and we are in a position to confirm which stage clubs will be able to return to on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap.

We expect an update from Government soon, prior to the Wednesday 2 December recommencement, in response to our Return to Play proposals. Concerns remain around the close contact involved in scrums and mauls and we remain in discussion about how to mitigate this to be able to get the game played again.

You can read Monday’s Government announcement below. Announcement  
  #ShowYourShirt – Can you spot yours at Twickenham? As you will have seen on Amazon Prime, Channel 4 and BBC TV coverage over the weekend, the club shirt display continues to grow at Twickenham, encouraging wider recognition of the incredible efforts made by clubs and volunteers during the pandemic.

See if you can spot your club colours in the image gallery below. Feel free to download an image to share with your shirt sponsor or use on your channels. Please make sure you include the photo credit: RFU Collection via Getty Images.

Don’t worry if you haven’t had chance to send in your shirt yet. You still have until the end of November if you would like it to feature at England Rugby’s final Quilter International in the Autumn Nations Cup on Sunday 6 December.

Click the #ShowYourShirt button below to find a free post label and to watch England players explain why they love seeing your club shirts at Twickenham.

Members and players are encouraged to wear your shirts and send messages of support to the team on social media using #ShowYourShirt. #ShowYourShirt Image Gallery  
  #GetYourShirtOn reaches over quarter of a million views Watch the re-run of Rugby World Cup winner and former England full back Nolli Waterman in action as she led our latest virtual rugby session, keeping our age grade players active and connected to their clubs. Nolli and Ugo Monye’s first two Sunday mornings have seen a combined total of more than 260,000 views across England Rugby’s YouTube and Facebook channels. It’s fantastic to see our U10s-U18s enjoying these alternative rugby sessions so much.

Next up is England and Harlequins scrum half Danny Care. Make sure your U10s-U18s tune in on Sunday to take part.

Session 1 – 9:30am – U10 and below
Session 2 – 10am – U11 to U14
Session 3 – 10:30am – U15 to U18 Nolli Waterman  
  Continue to help your rugby communities by just watching from home We have two rounds left of the Autumn Nations Cup, with England in action against Wales this Saturday, before returning to Twickenham for their final Quilter International fixture of 2020.

Click below for a reminder of how to watch for free through our offer with Amazon to help clubs generate revenue while in lockdown and how to promote to your members and community.

Clubs are able to set up an Associates Account that their members can sign up to using their unique club code which will see their club get money back. How To Sign Up  
  Other Important Updates How immigration changes could affect clubs From Tuesday 1 December 2020, the Home Office will introduce changes towards a new modified points-based immigration system which intends to simplify and streamline the process of granting immigration permission to non-UK citizen workers, students, entrepreneurs, and investors.

The guidance document seeks to provide an overview of the forthcoming changes to immigration policy that may impact sportspeople (including players, coaches etc) in professional and semi-professional leagues within England, including those participating in those leagues on an amateur basis. Guidance  
  Club Support Centre We understand that sometimes navigating through the current coronavirus guidelines and legislation, or just finding the right answer to a question, can be difficult for clubs. Our Club Support Centre is a dedicated online hub for clubs to find up to date guidance and advice on today’s hot topics, as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions. Clubs are also able to access advice and support easily and quickly, direct from the experts by emailing  
  Webinars and Podcasts The England Rugby Podcast and The Next Level

Dylan Hartley speaks to players from inside the England Men’s and Women’s camps on the O2 podcast, while you can see behind the scenes in the Next Level. You can listen to the podcast and watch Next Level below, on our YouTube and Twitter pages.

Maximising non-contact game formats – help retain players and support their return to club rugby. Tuesday 1 December 7-8pm
Register here.

Virtual Workshop – Volunteer Experience – top tips in recruiting, retaining and rewarding volunteers – 1 December 6:30-8:30pm
Register here.

You can see all our previous CoachingRefereeing, and Club webinars online. The Next Level  
  Leading the crowd to raise vital funds Three community rugby clubs are at the top of the Crowdfunder sport leader board and others are following the example of the Hull Ionians, Stockport and Pocklington clubs to raise vital funds during the coronavirus pandemic.

The three clubs raised a combined £158,335 in 48 days. With more clubs following suit, see more information and see how your club could benefit below.

We want to highlight the wonderful activities that our clubs and their teams are doing on our England Rugby channels, and also on the England Senior teams’ news boards. So that we can recognise as many clubs as possible during the forthcoming games, please share your stories and videos with or Leading The Crowd  

funding boost

We have been working hard with Government to develop a financial support programme for the game as well as permission to return to play when it is safe to do so.

Today’s announcement demonstrates Government understands the need for rugby to be supported and we would like to thank everyone we consulted with in the game for your feedback which allowed us to provide clear and detailed submissions.

Funding has been made available to help the survival of those sports who are not able to have spectators up to the end of March and the Sports Minister has estimated that the funding package for all sports will consist of £250m in loans and £50m in grants. The funding must be applied for and justified against certain criteria to be defined and is therefore not guaranteed.

This news is positive for rugby and we will continue to work with Government to understand the details of the application process, the criteria under which submissions will be measured, and the composition of the independent panel and delivery mechanism.

AnnouncementMinister’s Statement

World Rugby announces Joël Jutge as Head of Match Officials

Joël Jutge will return to World Rugby as Head of Match Officials after a highly-competitive recruitment process. He will start his role in January, reporting to Director of Rugby and High Performance Joe Schmidt.Hugely experienced, the former international referee re-joins the organisation from EPCR, whom he will continue to support through a busy schedule of Heineken Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures in January.Having performed a similar role with World Rugby from 2012-15, Jutge has remained at the heart of international match officials matters in his capacity as a selector, representing EPCR on the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee, chaired by Graham Mourie.Jutge will be responsible for overseeing the performance management and development of a talented team of international match officials – men and women – assisting them to deliver high-quality refereeing performances and to prepare for Rugby World Cups in 2021 in New Zealand and 2023 in France.Jutge will work closely with Referee Talent Development Manager Alhambra Nievas, Referee Talent Development Coach Craig Joubert and the laws and player welfare functions within a new Rugby and High Performance department under Schmidt. He will also work closely with the off-field disciplinary personnel under the independent Judicial Panel Chairman Christopher Quinlan QC.World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Joël back to the team. The complementary combination of Joel and Joe Schmidt as a team will provide a fresh and progressive approach to the game as well as creating a high performance culture that will ensure aspire to the highest-possible standards of match officiating.“They will work closely with the new High Performance 15s Committee under Bernard Laporte as World Rugby continues to shape a game that is attractive to players and fans and maintains the highest standards of player welfare.”Schmidt added: “Joël is a perfect fit for this important role and joins with a wealth of experience. Over his many years involved with elite refereeing, he has developed positive relationships with coaches and unions. He has a proven record of developing and managing referees and I look forward to working with him to continue to support and challenge match officials.”Jutge said that he was looking forward to returning to World Rugby and working with colleagues from unions, competitions and World Rugby.He said: “I am excited to be re-joining World Rugby, which is very much like coming home for me. I am hugely looking forward to working with a talented team of match officials to aspire to achieve the highest-possible performance standards at Rugby World Cup 2021 and 2023 and working with unions to identify and develop the next generation of test match officials.“I would like to thank EPCR for five wonderful years, working with great people and talented referees. In many ways, I will continue to work closely with my colleagues there to ensure a united and consistent approach to officiating between the international and club environment.”

rfu update

RFU Cluster Fixture Proposals
Following the decision from the RFU Council to cancel the 20/21 League Season for Men’s (Level 3 and below) and Women’s (Level 2 and below) RFU Leagues, plans have been developed to instigate local cluster fixtures, to help facilitate a return to contact rugby when permitted to do so (hopefully in the New Year). This local cluster competition would not be used to determine League positions for the 2021/22 season.

The proposal is based around five principles:

• Providing clubs with structured local competitive fixtures
• Based on contact rugby (either full contact or adapted variations dependent on Government advice)
• Minimised travel times
• Local clusters of up to seven teams (this number will vary according to specific regions and agreed local needs)
• Relaxed regulations to remove barriers to participation

All teams in RFU Leagues (Men’s level 3 and below / Women’s level 2 and below) will have been contacted by their Organising Committee on Friday 13 November with more detailed information about local clusters and how you can sign up. Equally, clubs are free to opt out if they wish to play in another locally organised model, or to simply arrange matches on an ad-hoc basis.

Also – The Age Grade season, as previously communicated, is extended and will end on 31 May 2021.

we are not the only ones celebrating a centenary

So much rugby club history gets lost over the decades, making it difficult to track origins or events. However for Black Country club Dudley Kingswinford a labelled notebook in a storage container verified that this of all years is their centenary.

“We can pinpoint the club’s beginning to May 1920 because of a book found in a box stored in a container,” said Brian Platts, the club’s youth representative. “The notebook had a label with dates on the front. It contains minutes of meetings, accounts, fixture lists and details every game we played for the first two seasons, including team selection, scores, and scorers. It even covers refreshments provided after the games.

“For the season 1920/1921 we played under the firm’s name, Harper Bean, in 1921/1922 we moved to the county ground in Dudley and became Dudley RFC. After a move to Penzer St in Kingswinford in 1926 we became Dudley Kingswinford RFC. In 1962 we made the move to our current ground Heathbrook in Wall Heath.”

With a thriving youth section, three regular senior men’s teams, a social team, a veteran XV and a ladies’ team, Dudley Kingswinford RFC were doing well, their 1st XV won their league and promotion to Midlands Premier, their Ladies XV also won their league, gaining promotion to Women’s NC 1 Midlands.

There was a lot to celebrate, but due to the pandemic they could only look back on a great season through our website and social media, although they have created a DK100 range of kit.

Said Brian: “I’m aware that there are any number of teams in the same position, but not many will be having their 100th birthday during the pandemic. After a great season on the pitch all celebrations were put on hold.

“The club decided to go ahead with the DK Centenary Wall, with a small band of volunteers getting together pre-season to construct a wall, built into an old railway embankment which runs the length of the 1st XV pitch. This will also serve as a memorial, with plaques on the blue steel sheets commemorating members who made a significant contribution to the club over the last 100 years and through the next 100. We approached Luke Perry, a well-known local sculptor and artist who works with steel. His work, featuring a player and club badge are forged out of steel, appropriate as our tagline on our kit is “Forged in the Black Country” celebrating the industrial heritage of the area.

“With the current situation as it is, we don’t believe that we will get an opportunity to celebrate this year.”

In the meantime, DK Falcons U16 players Ed and Ewen, together with eight other Wolverhampton Grammar School students, took part in the Coast 2 Coast 2020 Challenge, running 187 miles in 24 hours in circuits of a 4.7mile track and smashing the 3,000 target for the charity Brain Tumour Support by a current total of over £7,300.

This followed a static bike challenge raising money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund by the club’s social side the Old Boars, a cause close to them as the niece of one of the players is waiting for a heart transplant.