Community and social Rugby League are set to return from Monday 29 March – 12 months since the Coronavirus outbreak led to the suspension of all activity.
The community game did return briefly and partially during autumn 2020, but now it is hoped that Rugby League is back for good across the entire game.
For many, 29 March will mark the beginning of a phased return towards full contact Rugby League. This phased return includes four weeks of training from 29 March, a fortnight of friendlies from 24 April and a resumption of competitions from 8 May.
Social and non-contact variations of the game, such as Touch RL, Try Tag RL and X-League, will also resume from this day, while Masters Rugby League is expected to return when members are finally allowed to socialise more freely off the pitch.
The RFL is now inviting entries to the following community Rugby League competitions.
East of England Men’s League
London Men’s League
Midlands Men’s League
North East Rugby League
North West Men’s League
South West Men’s League
West of England Men’s League
Women’s Rugby League
Yorkshire Men’s League
Any clubs interested in entering teams should firstly read the RFL’s Return to Play Action Plan and Guidance, then email email@example.com to formally express an interest in the above or any other competitions – including the social, physical and learning disability, and wheelchair competitions. Relevant league administrations will have been in contact with clubs regarding youth and junior competitions.
During the downtime, more than £10 million has been invested into grassroots Rugby League via CreatedBy, the RLWC2021 capital grants programme dedicated to improving playing environments and creating more opportunities for people to get involved in the game.
RFL Director of Participation and Development, Marc Lovering, says: “By the end of this month Rugby League, in all its variations and at all levels, will be back. It’s been a long time, but finally we can all look forward to enjoying the game we love. Clubs and their volunteers have done a fantastic job over the past 12 months in extremely challenging circumstances.
“We still have to be on our guard. Covid hasn’t gone away and we need to be vigilant. A phased return will allow players to adjust to contact Rugby League for the first time in a long time, and allow time for clubs to understand and test their Covid protocols. It’s crucial that these protocols are adhered to, and that all activity is delivered in line with our government-approved action plan. Non-approved activity will leave organisers open to enforcement activity from various agencies, as well as negating insurance policies.
“We learned a lot from the trial games last Autumn and I’m grateful to the clubs and competition organisers involved for helping us demonstrate to government that we can provide a safe environment within Rugby League. It’s important now that we continue to do so and that we don’t fall at the final hurdle. We are almost there, but just two positive cases at a single club could set us right back.”
‘Return to Play’ guidelines and resources have been shared with all community clubs, and are available via the Our Learning Zone on the RFL’s website.