27 May 2022

IRFU Provide Clarity for Clubs with Updated Return To Rugby Roadmap

Extensive guidelines for a return to action

IRFU and Rugby Players Ireland agree pay deferrals of 10%-50%

Irish Rugby and Rugby Players Ireland have agreed pay deferrals

The IRFU have reviewed the Government of Ireland Phase 3 guidelines for the return of sporting activity from 29th June and have updated the Return to Rugby Roadmap for clubs.

All clubs must complete the Covid-19 Safety Planning Stage before moving to the resumption of training at any level.

Key Points:
-       Clubs in ROI that have completed the Covid-19 Safety Planning Stage can advance to Non-Contact Rugby Stage from the 1st July, 2020
-       As per above conditions, Clubs can advance to Contact Rugby Stage from 20th July 2020
-       IRFU will provide further detail on Non-Contact and Contact stages of Return to Rugby by 26th June, 2020
-       Update pending on Non-Contact training element of Step 2 of the NI Coronavirus Regulations
-       Paperless Pre-Return to Rugby Personal Assessment Declaration Form available from 13th July 2020
-       Club competitions are set to commence in September 2020
-       Player welfare a key focus of the Return to Rugby Roadmap
-       IRFU to issue supplementary PPE kits to clubs w/c 29th June 2020

What can Clubs do in the Non-Contact Stage? (From Wednesday 1st July, 2020)

From Wednesday 1st July: Clubs who have completed the Covid-19 Safety Planning Phase of their return to rugby may enter the Non-Contact Rugby Stage of the roadmap.

A ‘No plan, no play’ policy remains strictly in place. Clubs must confirm with their province that Covid-19 Club Health & Safety Plan has been completed before they can resume any rugby activity.

This stage will allow for skill development and include a provision for tag rugby and touch rugby.

Numbers Ratio Players to Coach:                  
·      Under U12:  16 players to 2 coaches
·      Above U12-U18: 20 players 2 coaches
·      Above U18: 15 players to 2 coaches
Session Duration:
·      60 mins max
·      Non-contact skills-based activities
·      Non-contact game forms (Touch & Tag)
·      7 v 7 on ½ pitch
Strict social distancing of 2 metres, the continued completion of Pre-Rugby Personal Assessment Declarations and safe behaviours including hand hygiene, cough etiquette must be adhered to at all times throughout this stage.

What can Clubs do in the Contact Stage? (From Monday 20th July)

From Monday July 20th: Clubs who have completed the Covid-19 Safety Planning Phase of their return to rugby may enter the Contact Rugby Stage of the roadmap.

This stage is a graduated return to contact. While continuing with skill-based activities, no scrummaging or mauling will be permitted in the early part of this stage. It will build with controlled contact development towards a defined contact training block to ensure games may commence in early September.

Numbers Ratio Players to Coach:                  
·      Under U12:  16 players to 2 coaches
·      Above U12-U18: 20 players 2 coaches
·      Above U18: 15 players to 2 coaches

Session Duration:
·      70 mins max

Content: w/c 20th July – 1st August
·      Skills based activities
·      Unopposed set piece and team
·      Fitness


Content: from 1st August onwards

Controlled contact development: Build-up use of pads and shields to progress.  Work in grids or drills of 2 to 3 participants progressing from walking, jogging to running.
Control contact development. Working in small numbers on 1 to 1 contact scenarios with controlled gradual progression, examples; 
Open play: 1v1tackle, 2v1 ruck, 3v2 defence etc.
Scrum: 1v1, 2v2, 3v machine, 3v3, 5v machine, 5v5 8v machine, 8v8, etc.
Lineout: unopposed working from 3 players progress to 7 and then add opposition etc (limit the amount of time mauling).
Building contact: Impact with bump, targeting contact entry points only
Contact limited numbers and time.
Unit Forward (8 players)
Unit backs (7 players)
Phase play (varied eg 6v4, 7v5, 10v5, 10v8, 7v7, 15v5 etc.)
Contact gradual progression to reflect the reality of the game and duration of session. Therefore, you may build in a 10 to 15min hit out for the session.
Possibly friendly – warm-up 29th, 30th of August.
Initial fixtures September 5th 6th (In cooperation with National and Provincial competition committees)
"We are sticking to the plan we laid out for clubs in May. While a more defined timeline is now in place, clubs should only return when they are ready to do so, " said IRFU Rugby Development Director Colin McEntee.

"We have already seen a handful of clubs put a Covid-19 Club Health & Safety Plan in place and resume with reduced activities and we are delighted to see players being active again and reconnecting with their clubs.

"Given the restricted nature of these activities, we don’t see any clubs being left behind as we continue to work towards a return to competition in September.  I encourage all clubs to plan for that time with the highest safety standards in mind."


Workload volume and activity should be strictly controlled throughout these stages. This will be critical in terms of injury prevention as well as minimizing the risk of COVID-19 infection.

IRFU Medical Director Rod McLoughlin said:

"We must remember at all times that COVID-19 has not been eliminated from this island. It is critical that clubs continue to minimise risk and adhere to all public health measures in place.

Rugby will only return in a meaningful way if we adopt the right behaviours that will keep ourselves, our teammates and our club mates safe."

He also urged clubs to take extra care with injury prevention measures for players.

"It has been over 100 days since any club player has been involved in competitive rugby and we have seen from other team sports that have returned earlier than rugby that there is an increased risk of injury.

That means clubs will have to be extra cautious around the training loads they are putting in place. Player welfare still applies around injury prevention just as much as it does in terms of Covid-19."


Clubs can avail of a new paperless Pre-Return To Rugby Personal Assessment Declaration Form week commencing the  July 13th.   The online version of the form will be available as part of the new RugbyConnect system.

The form is an essential document in Covid-19 Health & Safety Planning. It confirms that a club member is not suffering from any Covid-19 Symptoms, been in close contact with anyone who is self-isolating or has travelled from another country in the past 14 days.


The IRFU will issue supplementary PPE Kits to clubs to assist in the implementation of their COVID-19 Club Health & Safety Plans.

Each club can expect to receive a PPE Kit to their designated COVID-19 Club Safety Officer contact from the week commencing 29th June.

Each kit will consist of:

150 x Medical Grade Masks
300 x Gloves
Hand Sanitiser & Wall-Mounted Dispenser
450 Anti-Septic Wipes
The IRFU have also secured a 10% discount for clubs with a registered supplier for the long-term procurement of PPE.  

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.