The IRFU are now in a position to add a ‘Competition Stage’ to their Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs.
This is to allow clubs to plan and work towards the start of the 2020/21 season and the playing of rugby matches.
September has been given as the month in which rugby matches will be permitted to return for clubs.
Given the changing nature of the reopening of society and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a specific date will not be issued until further clarity is available and will remain subject to change.
The given date will also factor in a minimum window of five weeks permitted for contact training ahead of a return to rugby matches.
The Competition Stage is the final stage in the summary roadmap of the IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines. All clubs are currently in the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage, which they must complete before moving to the resumption of training at any level.
The IRFU are working toward a modified season for 2020/21. The governing body recognises concerns over travel, safety and expense and this will be reflected in the season’s structure. Clubs should expect that games at the start of the season will be kept local where practicable.
Further detail on the structure of the season will also be issued in due course.
The IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs are available at https://www.irishrugby.ie/running-your-club/return-to-rugby-for-clubs
Speaking about the announcement, Chair of the IRFU Rugby Committee Greg Barrett said: "This is another welcome step in our return to rugby. There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes in clubs at present as they put Health & Safety plans in place to manage the risk of COVID-19. This announcement helps give us all something to work towards.
"It’s important for rugby players to have competitive sport to look forward to and they deserve to know that our return to rugby guidelines are built around their welfare.
"We will provide further clarity on what the 2020/21 season will look like, but what we can say is that the first matches permitted will keep travel to a minimum.
"This should help with concerns around travel, but our hope is that this will also serve as an opportunity for the rugby community to support their clubs and help generate some much needed cash-flow.
"For now, I would urge clubs to continue to focus on completing the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage of our guidelines and availing of the education & training supports that the IRFU have put in place. That is ultimately what will lead to the resumption of rugby as we know it."