RFU decrees no competitive grassroots rugby until January

Decision by English governing body has been made in response to the tightening of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions

The news from Twickenham was not good for grassroots rugby in England. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
The news from Twickenham was not good for grassroots rugby in England. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE RFU Governance Committee has ruled that there will be no competitive rugby in England – with the exception of Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s – before January 2021 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Scottish Rugby continues to target a return of competitive rugby (playing in a specially created regional format) on 31st October. While recent Scottish Government guidance has not explicitly ruled this out, the tightening of Covid restrictions earlier this week has raised concerns that it is becoming an increasingly unrealistic target. 

Scotland and England are, of course, separate jurisdictions, but clubs north of the Border anxious about what the future holds will view this latest development in the South as an ominous sign. 

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“The RFU Governance Committee have made the difficult decision that, with the exception of Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s rugby, no organised RFU or non-RFU Leagues including merit tables, adult or age grade competitions will be played before January 2021 at the earliest,” said a statement issued by Twickenham earlier this [Thursday] evening.

“With the increased uncertainly caused by Government’s additional restrictions to curb the increase in Covid-19 cases across the country, the decision has been made so that we can provide clubs with some certainty over the next few months.” 

“The rugby community can continue to organise non-contact fixtures with other clubs using 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] and other touch rugby activity. Limited and restricted contact rugby training can also be continued.

“The RFU continues to be in active dialogue with government about moving to Stage E on the Roadmap. Should we reach this point at any time before Christmas, competitive friendly matches could commence.”

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 2051 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. I blame the SRU for the spiralling infection rate.

    Quite blatantly no social distance at the trough as snouts go in as usual.

  2. Hi Dom. By all consensus there were 100k cases a day in march April and as we know thousands of deaths. Today we know there are around the same amount and tens of deaths almost exclusively in late stage multi comorbid parents patients. Still sl every death is a source of sorrow.1700 will die in UK today 1690 not Covid related. I think the observation above about rfu and club rugby is spot on their natural 1&2 are semi pro wth 1000 tickets sold and hospitality. This is a chess move by RFU. SRU are in a different position.

    • There were 34 deaths today of patients who had tested positive in last 30 days. With none recorded in Scotland because of a power cut at the National Records office.

      My point being your stats re daily covid deaths are obvious nonsense.

      But you already knew that.

  3. The huge difference, maybe not considered or admitted is that most amateur Rugby Clubs in Scotland could practice spectator social distancing (and then some) even on a good match day. Many clubs only turn a penny if there is a Farmers Day or Rugby club lunch event tagged along. The word on the street is the SRU will make a decision today. Good Luck to Berwick RFC whatever you choose to do. Here’s hoping we get some local rugby Guys.

  4. Quite possibly a political move to force government to help the RFU and allow crowds and thus the amateur sport – which if stopped will hit Tory vote the hardest. Meanwhile in France 16,000 daily cases still 50 deaths. We have lost our minds.

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