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RFU's new Return to Community Rugby roadmap gives Suffolk sides light at the end of the tunnel - but Cambridge pull out of Bury St Edmunds' East Anglian League Cup




The area’s rugby clubs can finally begin planning their returns to action after more than a year with no competitive rugby.

A detailed calendar has been produced by the RFU to outline the stages for a return to ‘normal’ fixtures for the community game across adult and age grade levels.

The likes of Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Newmarket, Sudbury, Stowmarket and Ipswich have been without matches – other than temporarily on a 10-a-side touch basis – since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

But with the easing of restrictions having now been mapped out, there is an end coming into sight.

The area's rugby clubs now have a pathway laid out to return to competitive matches
The area's rugby clubs now have a pathway laid out to return to competitive matches

A provisional date of March 29 should see, data on Covid-19 cases permitting, a return to adapted contact training – without scrums and mauls.

It is planned contact will then be built in incrementally and training sessions not exceeding 20 minutes of contact at this stage.

Clubs will also be allowed, should they choose to do so, to play Ready4Rugby (10-a-side version of touch) or other non contact rugby both within their clubs and with other clubs.

Adapted contact rugby, which allows for tackles, could return in matches from April 26 Picture: Mecha Morton
Adapted contact rugby, which allows for tackles, could return in matches from April 26 Picture: Mecha Morton

From April 26, data permitting again, matches will be allowed between clubs under adapted laws.

But it does not appear crowds will be allowed into grounds until, at the earliest, May 17, when full contact training is set to be permitted.

If that happens, then full contact matches could be allowed from May 31.

RFU rugby development director Steve Grainger said: “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.

Cambridge, pictured in a match with Bury St Edmunds in 2016, have pulled out of The Wolfpack’s East Anglian League Cup competition
Cambridge, pictured in a match with Bury St Edmunds in 2016, have pulled out of The Wolfpack’s East Anglian League Cup competition

“Over the next couple of weeks, we will share detailed stage-by-stage guidance to make the return to rugby as simple and as safe as possible as we progress through the stages.”

Cambridge pull out of East Anglian League Cup

Bury St Edmunds had put out provisional fixtures from April 3 for their mini cup competition – ‘East Anglian League Cup’ with other local NCA league members.

But their preferred adapted contact format will now not be allowed under the RFU’s new roadmap until April 26, at the earliest.

It is understood Bury officials are still working through the logistics of Friday’s announcements with Westcliff and Bishop’s Stortford.

But higher-league Cambridge pulled out of the competition ahead of the roadmap being made public. Cambridge’s director of rugby Richie Williams told a local radio station Cambridge 105 they intend to focus on returning for pre-season training in June. But he did say they would come back for two games against Cambridge University to help the latter warm up for July’s Varsity match with Oxford.

Meanwhile, the Super Sevens Series has announced Bury St Edmunds will host the fourth and final round of this year’s competition, on Saturday, July 24. There was no 7s tournament at the club last year, despite several new dates being set.

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