THE Rugby Football League have created a scheme in preparation for the community game's return, building on the latest advice from Government (DCMS) and Sport England.

The 'Return to Play' plan identifies four stages, aligned to the Government’s progress against the five-stage covid alert levels.

With the level shifting from four to three, the RFL remains at stage two in their plan - “Includes virtual activity and small group fitness and skills sessions with non-contact with social distancing measures in place.”

RFL Director of Participation and Development, Marc Lovering said: “We’ve worked closely with Sport England and other sports to put a framework in place, aligning the national guidelines and alert levels to the return of community rugby league.

"We hope the information we’re releasing today, after a meeting of the community board earlier this week, will help the thousands of players, coaches and volunteers who are so keen for the game to resume.

“We continue to be led by Government guidance and our own Clinical Advisory Group, and progression through the RFL stages will only be confirmed when we are advised it’s safe to do so.

“Since the alert level came down from five to four, we’ve been pleased to see the resumption of some rugby league activity in a community club setting, as per stage two of our 'Return to Play' guidelines.

“Stage two involves small group activity evolving into team-based sessions, and that means the 'Virtual Game Day' initiative, building on 'Skill to Play' and 'Fit to Play', is still significant, in ensuring that clubs not yet ready to return can still encourage their players to remain active and engaged.

“We are expecting further guidance from DCMS and Sport England, which we hope will allow a move from small group activity to more team-based activity from early July – although still with social distancing.

“Also we shortly expect to receive further information about the use of indoor sports facilities.

“We will be issuing an update about physical disability and learning disability rugby league in the coming days, given the importance of retaining a focus on these areas of the game, and ensuring that those players stay active in such challenging times.

“Stage three of our 'Return to Play' guidelines would involve the possible introduction of social variants such as Touch RL, Tag RL and X League, and the partial return of low risk age groups to full contact.

“It is only at stage four, corresponding to the alert levels two into one, that we could envisage the return of full contact rugby league, possibly with rule adaptations, before the return of leagues and competitions. That remains some way off – but at least we are heading in the right direction.”