National League clubs could be playing full contact, 15-a-side matches on May 31st, providing there are no upswings in the Covid-19 figures.
A detailed calendar was published today (March 5) outlining the route towards a return to ‘normal’ fixtures. The key stages are as follows:
There are obviously still some caveats dependent on the control of the virus, but we can look forward with genuine optimism now towards the return of competitive rugby at levels 3 and 4.
Speaking on the latest episode of NCA Rugby Chats, Chairman John Inverdale said: "This is light at the end of the tunnel.
"In three weeks time or so, rugby clubs can be alive again which is the key thing. March 29th and April 26th are dates which are set in stone.
"On the 31st of May, full contact matches could be able to be staged for the first time. That is an opportune day for a lot of clubs to plan something for that Monday. You can imagine a glorious, early summer's day, a packed rugby club, loads of people there, money over the bar and a sense of a new dawn breaking.
"If all things go according to plan, all restrictions will be lifted on June 21st. If nothing happens untoward in the intervening period, we then get to July in pre-season training, and then we are off and running into September."
RFU Rugby Development Director, Steve Grainger added: “This is fantastic news for the community game and we are pleased to be able to publish our plan for a phased return to full contact rugby
“It’s wonderful to see light at the end of the tunnel and we are as delighted as clubs and players across the country that they will soon be able to resume training and, subject to each step on government’s roadmap being achieved, progress towards an exciting season of rugby for 2021/22 from September.
“Over the next couple of weeks, we will share detailed stage-by-
“As during lockdown, we will continue to run
“As more guidance is published by government, we will provide facilities guidance to ensure clubs are in the best possible position when they’re able to re-open their clubhouses.”