Scottish clubs and schools can move into Stage 4 of Return to Rugby Roadmap

Players of all ages can take part in 'modified full-contact activities and small sided games' according to latest guidance from Scottish Rugby

Heriots Rugby versus Ayr Bulls during last year's inaugural Super6 campaign. Image: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON
Heriots Rugby versus Ayr Bulls during last year's inaugural Super6 campaign. Image: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON

SCOTLAND’S domestic clubs and school teams can move to Stage 4 of the Scottish Rugby Return to Rugby Roadmap as of Monday, with the full blessing of the the Scottish Government.

This means that modified full-contact activities and small sided games (with specified restrictions) can resume for all age groups (excluding P1-3 age groups), allowing players to start preparing and conditioning themselves appropriately for the return to normality represented by a 31st October target date for competitive games.

The specific training conditions will allow the return of one-on-one tackling, one-on-one scrums, modified line-outs and rucks. Mauls and full scrums are still not permissible as the transmission exposure risk, due to prolonged face to face contact, remains high.

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Rugby, alongside other outdoor contact sports, is exempt from the new restrictions outlined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday regarding indoor and outdoor social gatherings, which permits only six people from up to two households to meet at any one time.

To support the preparation for a return to competitive rugby, indicative dates for future Return to Rugby stages have been announced (click here), with the return to full contact activities (Stage 5) scheduled to commence from 5th October 2020, and non-competitive match play (friendlies) permitted as of 19th October (further details, including restrictions, to be released soon), ahead of that indicative date for the return of competitive rugby on 31st October.

All indicative dates are subject to approval and guidance from The Scottish Government.

The Return to Rugby Stage 4 guidance can be found here, while a recording from yesterday’s webinar hosted by Sheila Begbie (Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development) is available here.

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About David Barnes 3385 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Every time there is a chink of positivity light Dom Ward turns up to pour water on it. Cases are increasing again but ICU admissions and mortality are not – anywhere in Europe. Anywhere/. This virus is not a threat to 99% of population and yet the lockdown is in health (mental and physical and missed treatments), education and employment. Dom please stop seeing things through your lens and see through the lens of wider society. We can and will pivot to protect the 1% who will be first in line to get a “Covid Jab” at some point. Public mood has shifted, the data supports that, the governments can see it. Support grass roots sport. Stay safe.

    • Alternately Dom Ward is posting an opinion which he is entitled to in the same way as you are entitled to yours.

      Why not just post your opinion and not tell others what to post?

    • Sorry those claims aren’t backed up with any evidence or actual verifiable statistics. France for one, with more than 10k new cases a day is highly concerned about rising numbers of intensive care numbers and rising numbers of deaths. The WHO also seem to have the temerity to disagree with Ed C….as do the UK govt as illustrated by the increasing number of local restrictions coming into place. We all want a return to normal but this is being hampered by complacency and ignorance. It’s also very easy to be blase about the ‘1%’ if that figure has any real integrity….but those are people’s loved ones. I certainly wouldn’t be wanting to risk killing off loved ones for the sake of wearing a mask and following simple instructions. Dom is correct that we are a long way from where we all want to be and the more that people remain complacent, the further away it will remain. A mature long term view is required here not just a petulant stamping of one’s feet and demanding that everyone pretends we can just ignore reality.

  2. Dom – in your opinion it doesn’t make sense. I expect for many other people it does. No one will think any less of players who choose not to return to contact training at this stage.

    Of course organised sport is social, but it’s also clearly different from, say, a small house party. There’s a public health benefit to organised sport which is different to purely social gatherings. There would be health risks associated with going a year or more without contact training e.g. players dropping out of the game, increased risk of injury on return. There is a rationale behind the decision, even if you disagree with it.

  3. I applaud the efforts of the rugby development folks to get us to this stage.

    However there are some serious issues with this move into stage 4.

    I listened to the briefing from the first minister on Thursday. No equivocation. We need to bring in further restrictions and can only meet up with 6 people from a max 2 households. Various areas of the country have additional controls. This is so we can get the spread of the virus under control.

    Imagine my astonishment when listening to the webinar at 4pm yesterday that we are moving into stage 4 of the Scottish Rugby roadmap.

    If I still played I can partake in up to 30 mins of modified contact including 1-1 tackling and scrumming.

    What I can’t do is use the changing rooms or take a shower because those activities are deemed risky. To be more accurate I could use the shower if by myself and we clean the showers before the next person uses it.

    Coaches have to practice social distancing but players don’t when on the training pitch.

    As soon as they step off the pitch, players must then practice social distancing.

    Spectators in sports arena has been suspended (out with 300 spectators at Aberdeen and Dingwall this weekend) and the SRU have stopped selling tickets for the autumn games due to the uncertainty.

    I fully understand that we are all keen to get back to playing and watching rugby. It seems incongruous to be doing this at the same time as tougher restrictions are being put in place.

    • Dom – my understanding of the ScotGov guidance is that the new restrictions apply to social gatherings. Sports and leisure come under a different section, and I believe the 5 household limit remains even after Monday for informal exercise. Organised sports should follow their governing body’s guidance.

      It sounds like obesity is a major risk factor with this virus, and I think it’s totally sensible and proper for the government to restrict social gatherings while opening up more opportunities for exercise. I don’t see this as incongruous.

    • I get all that David.

      Organised sports are social gatherings.

      I read the rules in place for spectators at Pittodrie this weekend. No standing, no shouting, no singing among others.

      Organised sports like rugby were already back doing exercise. Just we had to maintain social distancing and could do modified touch. All makes sense given the further restrictions. Moving to stage 4 does not.

    • Maybe we should all go down the pub to discuss the matter? I’d invite you round to my house but of course can’t accommodate you both under current restrictions due to the high risk of passing on infections indoors. However meeting indoors in the pub is fined and the bonus is we can bring all our friends too!

    • Correcting my own point – Rule of 6 DOES apply to informal sporting meet-ups but not organised sport

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