Return to Rugby and Club Update

Firstly the committee hopes everyone is still keeping well and itching to get back to rugby.

The following is an update on the new regulations and also what has been happening behind the scenes and what we are planning going forward. There is a lot of information here and this will also be available on the website.

Today Monday 29th March 2021 sees the return of rugby at Stage D1 on the new RFU roadmap which can be viewed here, with Stage D2 from Monday 26th April in line with the RFU and government regulations at that time.

Based on feedback the RFU have made changes to Age Grade Rugby for 2021-22. These enable teams to be combined either up or down one age in the teenage years, if there are not enough numbers to field full sides in a single age group. They envisage this will be the exception, but the ability to do so could make the difference for those players who have been particularly disrupted by the pandemic; their safe transition to adult rugby is one of our highest risks. The 17 year olds playing adult changes have been revised to support this.

The Age Grade changes document, version three, is on the Return to Rugby page and can be found here.

Guidance includes advice for incremental contact training, building up to a max of 20 mins per session, excluding scrums and mauls, recommended coach to player ratio, equipment use and sanitisation advice. Also the age grade out of season regulation (see 15.8) is suspended in 2021. This is replaced with an RFU Summer Training and Playing Framework this year to enable age grade players to catch up on missed rugby development opportunities safely, and this will be launched on Friday 12th April by the RFU. The framework will be operational from June to the end of August and will include contact training and inter club activity.

Ragarding adult male rugby there has been an ongoing debate for the last 18 months within the RFU around the structure of future Adult Male RFU competitions. Proposals are now being finalised which seek to address the principles below:

Reduce travel (time, distance and cost).

Increase the numbers of teams and leagues at certain levels, without significantly reducing quality of league rugby.

  • Retain the principle of automatic league promotion.
  • Reduce the churn (of teams) in leagues and increase stability through amended relegation.
  • Establish a protected two week break over the Christmas period and protected weekend breaks at points through the season to support player welfare and availability.
  • Remove conflict of league and cup competitions during the season.
  • Provide additional home match options and excitement through cup competitions after the league season has concluded.
  • Provide a mix of competitions that players/coaches/clubs requested in surveys and consultation.

Return to Rugby – off field guidance

Changing rooms and showers cannot open from Monday 29 March, except for use by disabled people or in an emergency (for example should an injury occur and require treatment indoors).

We are awaiting publication of guidance as to whether changing rooms will be permitted to open at Step 2 on the government’s roadmap (provisionally Monday 12th April) or at Step 3 (provisionally Monday 17th May).

Toilets are allowed to open on Monday 29 March however the decision on this is at the discretion of the club, therefore we would only like use of the toilets in an emergency please and remember a mask must be worn whilst inside the clubhouse.

Travel for sport and exercise is permitted. However, it is strongly recommended keeping travel to a minimum. We are awaiting the publication of government guidance relating to car sharing, minibus and coach use and will update when clarification has been received.

It is expected that clubhouses will be able to re-open in line with national hospitality guidance from Step 2 on the government’s roadmap. This is when pubs and restaurants will be permitted to re-open (no earlier than 12th April.) We are currently looking at getting hand sanitisers fitted at all entrances to the club and also protective screens from the bar and kitchen serving areas.

Spectators are not allowed at any community sport and physical activity sessions or events. This does not apply to carers for disabled people, or adults needed to supervise under-18s in a safeguarding role. Where it is necessary for them to be present, supervising adults or waiting parents/carers should not mix with others from outside their household or support bubble.

While this will be difficult for coaches to police as well as coaching, can I please remind parents that we must respect the spirit in which grassroots sport has been granted permission to return and would please strongly discourage any parents from huddling together on side-lines outside of the government guide-lines.

General Club Update
Throughout the pandemic the committee have been ensuring there will still be a club for all to return to and we have managed throughout the course of the entire pandemic to apply for and receive grants from the Government, Sport England and finally the RFU Winter Survival Fund.  Some of these grants have strict conditions on what items can be covered by them and if we have reserves for them may be required to return unused funds to the relevant bodies.  As a result of these grants the club is still in a reasonable financial situation and gearing up for hopefully a much better season next year.

As there has been a relaxation as mentioned above in the regulation 15 and the RFU actively supporting clubs to get back on their feet as soon as possible we have decided to run our annual 7s weekend this year, though we have move the date back to the 7th Aug.  We plan to run a seniors tournament on the Saturday and a youth competition on the Sunday.  Already the senior tournament if full with 24 teams entered in just under 2 weeks.  At this moment the youth tournament will be played under Ready-4-Rugby rules or a similar touch set of rules, unless the guidance changes from the RFU and the government.

It would be great to see as many club members as possible at the event and anyone who has a few spare hours to volunteer please speak to any committee member or coach. I know Jason Bowie who does a superb job every year organising this event will be able to find you something to do.

It is with regret however we have taken the decision to cancel the Ascot night again this year, as the risk on the outlay for this event was deemed too great in case there are any setbacks to the Government’s roadmap, however we are keeping our options open and may organise events in the autumn or Christmas. Stay safe and we are all looking forward to seeing everyone very soon again.
Kieran Donnelly (Chair) and the LMRFC Committee