A RUGBY Football Union national roadmap to support a return to activity reveals that the grassroots game could stay as it is for ‘a while’.

The likes of Knutsford and Holmes Chapel rugby clubs as well as the town’s schools will be guided by the recent document release in terms of what can and can’t be done in the sport at this time, following all rugby union activity initially being suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But an easing of some lockdown measures over the past few weeks has opened the door to a restricted return to action.

A six-stage plan, with Stage F being a return to competitive matches against other teams, leaves the sport currently at Stage B in which six individuals from different households may now meet up and engage in individual training.

Bill Sweeney, the RFU chief executive, said: “While we are keen to have rugby being played and members returning to their clubs, we need to be cautious and will therefore only move from one stage to another when guidance and advice says that it is safe to do so.

“There are many implications of a staged return to play, including the impact on the competitive programme, rugby activity in clubs, schools, colleges and universities and also the use of club houses and indoor facilities. We remain committed to addressing these challenges in the run up to the 2020-21 season.”

The two-metre social distancing rule still applies at Stage B and if a coach is involved they are part of the group of six.

Equipment sharing (including balls) should be kept to a minimum and strong hand hygiene practice should be in place before and after.

As physical contact with anyone outside of your house is currently not permitted, playing of any games (small sided or full) is also not permitted at this time.

Parents/carers observing a session at a distance from a safeguarding perspective is permitted, without them being part of the participating group.

A move to stage C would begin to see larger groups being able to train together, such as forwards or backs or age-grade groupings.

“We anticipate that this stage will still be subject to some social distancing measures and the training activities permitted would likely reflect a need to limit the total amount of close or face-to-face contact,” say the RFU.

The roadmap focuses on a return to community rugby activity and not the reopening of clubhouses. As these are indoor spaces, they will be subject to separate government advice and guidance.

The current position is that clubs are able to open indoor facilities only to allow access through the building to pitches, access to toilets and a facility (should appropriate licenses be held) for the serving of takeaway food and drinks.