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UK government give English clubs green light to train as RFU step up return-to-play plan


Saracens' Billy Vunipola. Photo: PA

Saracens' Billy Vunipola. Photo: PA

Saracens' Billy Vunipola. Photo: PA

Hopes of the rugby season resuming in the coming months have been handed another boost as the Rugby Football Union (RFU) have confirmed that professional players can resume training under new guidelines published by the British government today.

The news comes on the back of New Zealand announcing a Super Rugby tournament, which is set to begin next month.

In England, plans are being put in place for players to carry out individual training programmes under carefully controlled medical conditions, whilst ensuring that the two metre social distancing measures are maintained at all times.

Training facilities will be regularly deep cleaned, while every player and staff member will be tested for Covid-19 symptoms before they are allowed to enter the premises.

Players and staff have also been warned to ensure they understand the specific risks involved in returning before they proceed.

Team training will remain on hold for now, but this move is seen as a positive with regard to rugby getting the green light in the coming weeks.

Closer to home, the IRFU are working towards an August 10 restart with the initial plan of returning to training next week put back.

It looks increasingly likely that a behind-closed-doors inter-pro series will take place, and with that in mind, the IRFU will be closely monitoring the situation of other unions, including the RFU, who welcomed the step forward in the next phase of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

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"The announcement today from DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) that elite sports can restart is welcome and enables us to consider plans for a return to individual training with social distancing in selected performance training facilities across Premiership Rugby," a RFU statement read.

"While much has been done in recent weeks to establish protocols around a safe return to training and ultimately competition, there is still significant work to do and discussions to be had with players and staff before any form of training can resume, their welfare will be at the heart of our decisions.

"This announcement relates only to the restarting of individual training with social distancing in Premiership Rugby.

"The RFU will continue to work with government and other sporting bodies to provide guidance on return to training in the community game, Greene King IPA Championship, Rugby Sevens and Tyrrells Premier 15s ahead of next season.

"We will continue to keep everyone informed when RFU guidance is issued."

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