No community rugby in Wales before November

Welsh rugby

The Welsh Rugby Union has announced it is "highly unlikely" community rugby will return by the end of October.

The governing body says it is working with the Welsh Government in order to move to the next phase of community rugby's return.

It will not happen, though, before November.

"We know there is an appetite to get back to contact and competitive rugby," said WRU operations director Julie Paterson.

Community rugby is regarded as everything below regional rugby, from the Premiership to the club leagues.

"We must continue with our phased approach, step by step," said Paterson.

"It's vital we stay vigilant to the safety measures put in place for training sessions and adhere to the pre and post-training protocols in order to safeguard our communities and to hopefully ensure that rugby is back for good.

"We have committed to giving the community game at least six weeks to prepare for the resumption of any kind of competitive, contact rugby with our players' welfare our primary focus. We will continue to work towards the next phases in conjunction with the Welsh Government."

Welsh rugby union graphic

The easing of social distancing restrictions would need to take place, while the community game will be given at least six weeks of contact rugby training, before the start of any competitive contact rugby for player welfare reasons.

The WRU has now sanctioned the inclusion of touch rugby activities as part of fitness and skills-based training sessions at all levels of the game in Wales.

This is in addition to the tag and touch rugby already sanctioned for under-7s to under-11s.

All other measures remain in force, including training in small groups with a maximum of 15 and social distancing applying to all other parts of training sessions with no huddles, close team talks or team photos, while balls and cones are the only equipment currently permitted.

There is also still no contact, with tackling, wrestling, rucking, mauling, line-outs and scrums forbidden and no matches or training between clubs allowed.

"We are pleased to be able to confirm touch rugby can now be included as part of the fitness and skills-based training sessions currently sanctioned," added WRU community director Geraint John.

"This will be a welcome addition to rugby activity at all levels but is very much a continuation of our phased return to community rugby.

"Coaches are encouraged to introduce a touch rugby element towards the end of their structured training sessions and to stick to the hygiene measures in place, to sanitise hands and balls every 20 minutes and especially before and after engaging in touch-based activities.

"This isn't the green light to exclusively play touch rugby throughout the training session."