Championship and League 1 clubs have been forced to suspend training as a result of the latest national lockdown.
Clubs were advised by the RFL that they should halt all activity until January 15th in news that puts a scheduled return in February in jeopardy.
Under current regulations, both competitions could continue activity as they fall under the elite sports exemption. But the RFL’s clinical advisory group have advised a pause in activity would be the best course of action given the current rise in cases sweeping across the country.
Both competitions are due to return on the weekend of February 27/28th.
The governing body has confirmed that the publication of fixtures for the new season, due to take place next week, has been delayed, as well as the draw for the first two rounds of the Challenge Cup.
Community activity has also been suspended as a result of the Government rules imposed on the country.
In a statement, the RFL said: “The RFL has advised clubs in Betfred Championship and League 1 to pause their pre-season training programmes for the next two weeks, in recognition of the national crisis, and with more than seven weeks until the scheduled start of the 2021 season.
“This will allow detailed discussions with clubs, before the publication of fixtures – which will be delayed, as will the draw for the first two rounds of the Challenge Cup, until a further announcement later this month.
“Academy and Scholarship programmes will also be suspended, and Betfred Women’s Super League clubs will also be advised to pause their pre-season training programmes – although it is hoped the England Women and Wheelchair squads will continue with their training camps in January and February as previously scheduled.”
On community clubs, the RFL said: “The RFL will be contacting Community Clubs and whilst recognising that the priority remains the public health emergency, will continue to stress to Government, working with other sports, the importance of team sports in terms of the nation’s mental and physical fitness, and the importance of Community Clubs in terms of social cohesion – and will work towards a return of training then competitions as soon as possible this spring.”