The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have confirmed that adult competitive leagues have been cancelled for the 2020/21 season.
The RFU made the decision to cancel leagues from Level 3 and below for men and Level 2 and below for women in the belief that, even if a return to full contact rugby becomes possible, playing a meaningful and competitive season resulting in promotion and relegation is no longer feasible.
The Gallagher Premiership is due to restart next week while the Championship remains on course to start in January but the decision to cancel local leagues has been made to “provide clubs with some certainty for the remainder of the season”.
The RFU confirmed they have been in contact with the Government about moving towards some form of contact rugby that will enable as many matches to take place as possible.
Rugby development director Steve Grainger said: “We are very keen to see competitive rugby being played again and have been pushing extremely hard to accelerate a return to contact rugby.
“However, we also need to be realistic about the prevalence of Covid-19 cases in society and, given the introduction of further regional restrictions, we are working with Government to create alternative solutions.
“Progress has been made following productive conversations with DCMS and the Office of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer who have shown a willingness to work with the RFU to explore other available options.
“While many people have looked forward to contact rugby returning, we are receiving more and more feedback from clubs and players that adaptations would be acceptable.
“There is an increasing appetite to play an adapted format of rugby rather than having no fixtures at all.
“We will do everything we can to enable the rugby community to return to contact matches as soon as we can, but our priority is to keep players, coaches, referees and volunteers safe.
“We will provide an update to our community clubs as soon as we can.
“We would like to once again thank everyone for their incredible efforts in implementing the necessary changes and for their continued support in keeping formats of rugby going during this challenging season.”
Under the guidelines of the new national lockdown, all team sports at ‘non-elite’ level have been suspended until December 2.
This includes club age grade and adult rugby activities below the Greene King Championship and Allianz Premier 15s.
While group training sessions are banned, a maximum of two players (or one player and one coach) can participate in socially distanced (two metres plus), individual training sessions in a public outside space, but not a garden, without sharing equipment.