English Premiership clubs have been permitted to resume close- contact training next week ahead of the planned resumption of the 2019-20 season in August.
The Professional Game Board, which represents the major bodies in English rugby, has given a provisional go-ahead for teams to move to stage two of the return to training protocols from Monday, 6 July.
The players have been involved in non-contact, individual training with strict social-distancing measures since last month. But the implementation of stage two allows them to resume close contact training in small groups, including scrummaging sessions.
Chris Booy, chairman of the Professional Game Board, said: ‘I can confirm that the Professional Game Board, which incorporates representatives of the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby, Rugby Players Association and Championship Clubs, has given provisional authorisation for Premiership clubs to move to Stage 2: Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance, from Monday.
‘The Premiership clubs successfully completed Stage 1 of the process so now we can move to Stage 2 ahead of the targeted resumption of Gallagher Premiership Rugby on the weekend of 14-16 August.
‘I’m delighted to confirm that Rugby Restart is on track. The teams at Premiership Rugby, RFU and RPA and at our clubs have undertaken a huge amount of work to get us to Stage 2 and I commend them for their dedication and tireless commitment to resuming the league campaign when it is safe to do so.’
Clubs will need to provide a written declaration to Premiership Rugby and the RFU that they have met a number of key criteria alongside a full risk assessment, which will include an education module, regular Covid-19 testing and continuation of a daily medical screening for players and support staff.
Darren Childs, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said: ‘This is a significant milestone in our journey to restarting Gallagher Premiership Rugby, as we stay on track to resume the league on 14 August, if it remains safe to do so.
‘This stage brings with it a comprehensive Covid-19 testing programme for players and staff, and a contact-tracing protocol. As part of our commitment to player welfare, all players will be asked whether they would like to opt in to Stage 2 training after completing an education module.
‘Rugby has unique challenges due to levels of proximity and impact, which is why the exhaustive process that is being followed is so thorough and has involved high-level collaboration between Premiership Rugby, RFU and RPA.’
Photo: Luke Walker/Getty Images