Return to Full Contact Rugby – With Some Changes!

We are delighted to report that, following a meeting with DCMS and Sport England yesterday, RFU have confirmed a return to full contact rugby at all adult levels IN TRAINING from 19 JULY and full contact inter-club MATCHES from SATURDAY 7 AUGUST. Full contact 7-a-side matches and tournaments can resume from 19 July. It is therefore expected that the league season will start as scheduled on 4 September with the 1st XV away at Rotherham and the Foresters at home against Otley.

In terms of pre-season preparation, the planning has been overshadowed by uncertainty over the Covid restrictions but the fixtures currently confirmed are:

19 August (Thursday)        Foresters v Burnley (H)

21 August (Saturday)        1st XV v Otley (A)

26 August (Thursday)        Foresters v North Ribblesdale (A)      

The Otley fixture is to fulfil a long-standing commitment to visit Cross Green before the anticipated closure of the ground at the end of the year so is likely to be the last time the Green Machine will grace that fine old ground.

As we look forward to the resumption of rugby as we know it, World Rugby have decided to shake things up a bit with four Global Law Variations announced to come into effect on 1 August, so will be in operation for the new season. Full details are at but essentially comprise:

  • A 50:22 law similar to the Rugby League 40:20 law – if the ball is kicked from Team A’s own half and bounces into touch in the opposition’s 22, Team A will get the throw-in to the lineout.
  • Introduction of a new goal line drop out by the defending team when (i) an attacking player is held up in-goal (replaces attacking scrum), (ii) an attacking player knocks on in-goal (replaces defending scrum) or (iii) defending player grounds the ball after it has been kicked into in-goal by an attacker (replaces 22m drop-out).
  • Restrictions on latching, with multiple pre-contact latching to be banned and, although it will remain legal for a single support player to pre-bind on a ball-carrying team-mate, that single latched support player must observe all laws relevant to the first player arriving at the breakdown – ie must stay on their feet rather than going to ground as the ball carrier is tackled.
  • Changes to the law at the breakdown to protect the “jackler” (new definition) and in particular to outlaw certain dangerous clearouts.

Robert Fort

Chairman, Wharfedale RUFC

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