Junior RL returns next month - but no open age until 2021
The RFL Board has confirmed the phased introduction of controlled contact in training can start from Monday. Youth and junior age groups will be permitted up to four playing opportunities at two-week intervals from the weekend of October 17-18.
But the RFL says it has reluctantly conceded that there can be no open age fixtures for the next three months. Work continues on plans for a number of possible pilot matches as part of the preparations for a best-case scenario return in January 2021.
Marc Lovering, the RFL’s Director of Participation and Development, said: “Sadly there will be no open age matches taking place in 2020 and playing opportunities for Youth and Junior age groups have been reduced. Playing opportunities will begin at Youth and Junior level in October – and we take some consolation from the fact that controlled contact will be permitted for open age training.
“This news will cause upset and disappointment at Community clubs and we share those feelings as we work flat out to support the phased return of the Community game.
“We have to act responsibly as the Governing Body and member clubs together, and do all we can to demonstrate that Rugby League can be played safely - initially at Youth and Junior level.
“The Government fully recognises the vital role team sports like ours play in improving physical and mental health – which is more significant now than ever. We take every opportunity to stress those points and ensure policy makers are aware of the significant financial implications for Community clubs from the lack of open age fixtures, which are vital to revenue streams."
Players will be limited to one parent/guardian during matches in October and November, with no activity planned for December. Another reason youth and junior matches are returning first is the RFL deemed players are "more open to the 'turn up, play and go home' philosophy than older players who see after-match socialising as a significant part of the match day experience."
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