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18th December 2020  
Community Game Update – December 2020
1. Covid-19 latest
2. Return to Play webinar Q&A with Steve Grainger and John Lawn
3. Community Game webinar with Eddie Jones, Bill Sweeney & Steve Grainger, Monday 21 December
4. RFU statement on concussion 
5. Future Competitions Structure 
6. O2 Touch
7. GMS Tidy Up
8. GMS Club Safeguarding Audit 
9. England Rugby's work with Stonewall 

As we head into the final few days of December 2020, we can reflect on quite a year for the community game. We have all been through so much and we want to take this time to wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope that everyone stays safe and well over the festive holiday.

We would also like to say a massive thank you for going above and beyond to keep your clubs and teams going during the toughest of challenges for the game. Your commitment to, and support of, your rugby communities will never be forgotten, and we hope 2021 brings you everything you deserve for keeping rugby afloat in 2020.

To those clubs holding friendly fixtures this weekend, please make sure you comply with all Covid-19 and Stage E guidance. Have fun being back with your teams and we hope you all enjoy returning to the pitch.

This communication is only sent to the roles highlighted in the distribution list above. Please share it with others in your club who need to see it.
Covid-19 latest
This week has seen further Government updates on a number of aspects of Covid-19 related guidance, along with additional changes to the Tier status of many geographic areas. We will continue to update our guidance. However, key updates are: 


Many areas have moved Tiers this week, the majority from Tier 2 to Tier 3, together with the movement of Bristol and North Somerset from Tier 3 to Tier 2 and Herefordshire from Tier 2 to Tier 1.

We are aware that there has been some confusion as to the definition of some tiered areas and we have been in discussion with DCMS on this over the last week. 

We have now received their definitive position that each bullet point (as per the list on the Government website) should be treated as a distinct area, so individuals only have an exemption from social distancing and the rule of six to travel to and play organised team sport within that defined area.

This means, for example, if you live in Darlington, you can travel to Hartlepool and elsewhere in the Tees Valley Combined Authority for sport but you should not travel to Sunderland as that is in the North East Combined Authority.

Likewise, if you live in Lancashire, Blackpool or Blackburn with Darwen you can travel within, and across, these authorities for sport but not outside those three authorities. However, you should not, for example, travel from North Lincolnshire into North-East Lincolnshire for sport as these are listed separately.

At the time of writing, we are awaiting the new published list of authorities in areas such as Hampshire, and will update our guidance in Tuesday’s CGU after Government guidance has gone live. 


We have had it confirmed that spectators are permitted in community sport in all tiers, however social distancing and group sizes must be observed at all times. It is crucial that we avoid large gatherings as this may impact on our ability to continue with further participation in our sport. Read more.
We have created a simple checklist here.

Positive Tests

Our nationally agreed position with Government (as part of approval for return to Stage E on the Return to Rugby Roadmap) is that: should there be a positive test from a player/referee there is no routine need for other players/referees on the field of play to self-isolate as long as there has been no deviation from Stage E protocols (and referees have not been involved in direct face-to-face conversations within 1 metre for more than 3 seconds with players) and that all other relevant protocols on changing, travel etc have been followed. Read more

However, local public health officials do have the powers to insist on self-isolation based on the context at that time in the local community. This is the same in rugby as for other sports and the same for sport as in other aspects of community life – e.g. pubs (where open), schools etc.

For any queries around Return To Play please visit our Coronavirus Hub or our Helpdesk FAQs.
Tier Areas
Facility Guidance
RFU Headlines
Return to Play webinar Q&A with Steve Grainger
RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger and RFU Head of Game Development John Lawn answered your questions on Tuesday in a live Q&A with ITV and BT Sport commentator Nick Mullins. You can watch the interview back in the link below.
Watch Video
Community Game webinar with Eddie Jones, Bill Sweeney & Steve Grainger
As a Christmas special, in support of the community game, England Head Coach Eddie Jones will share tips with clubs, CBs and coaches on how to approach training sessions and prepare players for the interim law adaptations that have enabled a return to 15-a-side contact rugby this month.

Eddie will be joined by RFU Chief Executive Officer Bill Sweeney and RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger, who will update on ongoing work in support of the community game.

If you or your club coaches would like to put a question to Eddie, Bill or Steve, please email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. including your name and club, by midday on Sunday.

You can register for the webinar below and also post questions in the live chat room. We will endeavour to answer as many questions as we can, but please bear in mind we have a 45-minute session and may not be able to cover each one.

Please note, numbers are limited to 500 on this platform, but we will include the recorded webinar in next week’s CGU for everyone to view.
RFU statement on concussion
We have been deeply saddened to hear the brave personal accounts from former players and their families about their health. The RFU applauds them for coming forward to tell their stories.

Rugby is a contact sport and while there is an element of risk to playing any sport, the RFU takes player welfare extremely seriously. As a result of scientific knowledge improving, rugby has been able to develop its approach to concussion surveillance, education, management and prevention across the whole game.

We have implemented player, coach and referee training and best practice protocols across the game and rugby’s approach to head injury assessments and concussion protocols has led to many other team sports adopting our guidance.

The professional game is different to the community adult and age-group games and RFU Age Grade Rules allow players to learn rugby basics and skills incrementally, with contact gradually introduced. The graduation from tag to contact rugby encourages waist height tackles, which is the safest way for children to learn. Playing rugby also provides significant physical and mental health benefits.

Please read below for our full statement.
Future Competitions Structure
The RFU Council has voted in favour of a number of features for a new competition structure for the adult male game from Level 3 down, scheduled to come into effect in the 2022/23 season.

The new measures aim to be more appealing to players as they juggle rugby with increasing demands on their time away from the game. The changes are designed to help arrest a decline in the numbers of adult men playing rugby union in the community game, as well as adding variety and interest which the game has told us it wants.

The features include aiming to reduce travel times and distances players spend travelling to matches and shortening the length of league seasons. The priorities remain player welfare and protecting the sustainability of clubs.

The recommendations follow a series of consultations with clubs, coaches and players, in addition to webinars, a national survey and detailed analysis of the RFU’s Game Management System and Electronic Match Card data.

Thank you to everyone who shared feedback on the current competition structure.

The full details can be found below.
Full Details
O2 Touch
The recent return to rugby has also meant that O2 Touch is back up and running at clubs. Many of our centres are running at full capacity, which shows the great work that you are all doing in getting O2 Touch back. Due to health and safety considerations, and with a notable increase in demand for participation, we encourage players to download the app and clubs to register their centres to enable as many people as possible to take part.

Clubs who wish to join the programme or receive more information should contact O2 Touch on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A reminder to all our centres to keep an eye out for the next Admin Webinar scheduled for early 2021.
Age Grade Registration – GMS Data Tidy-Up
In a recent update, details were provided around changes to Personal Profile improving the user journey and new users able to have a single link on GMS.

We are automatically removing the existing 150,000 duplicated email addresses, to be completed by the New Year. While we all have some time at Christmas, we would like you, if possible, between the Christmas films and leftovers to review and remove any redundant records using the link below.
Remove A Record
GMS Club Safeguarding Audit
Please remember that all clubs offering Age Grade activities or having 17-year-olds playing up into the adult game, must complete the Club Safeguarding Audit as per Regulation 21.1.6. Following the recent four-week lockdown, the deadline has been extended by four weeks, with a new completion date of Monday 28 December 2020. The club safeguarding officer, or another officer with access to the club’s organisational profile, should complete questions by that date in the questionnaire tab. Don’t forget to tick the safeguarding declaration at the end and press submit.

Should you have any difficulties, please get in touch with the Safeguarding Team (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) who will be happy to assist.
England Rugby's work with Stonewall
England Rugby and Stonewall began working in partnership in September 2018, with a mutual determination to make rugby an inclusive sport for LGBT+ people.

Stonewall has since worked with LGBT+ role models and allies from across the rugby union community and has helped to encourage grassroots rugby coaches to promote LGBT+ inclusion.

Three programmes have had a meaningful impact: Active Allies and Role Models, training LGBT+ people and club and constituent body leaders; and Train the Trainer, educating rugby coaches, and you can read about them on the link below.