Women edge closer to re­turn with train­ing boost

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - Premier 15s By Fiona To­mas

Elite women’s rugby moved a step closer to re­turn­ing af­ter the Rugby Foot­ball Union gave the go-ahead for clubs to start stage-two train­ing.

It means teams in the Premier 15s can now train in small groups with lim­ited con­tact and re­duced faceto-face ex­po­sure.

The RFU has yet to an­nounce a start date for the 2020-21 Premier 15s sea­son and, with World Rugby hav­ing set aside an in­ter­na­tional win­dow from late Oc­to­ber un­til early De­cem­ber to com­plete the resched­uled Women’s Six Na­tions fix­tures, restart­ing the elite fe­male game this cal­en­dar year would ap­pear prob­lem­atic.

In pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions of the league, the sea­son has been paused dur­ing ma­jor tour­na­ments to main­tain its in­tegrity.

The cost of test­ing play­ers for coro­n­avirus, which clubs are not per­mit­ted to do un­der stage-two train­ing, was thought to be one of the bar­ri­ers for the RFU in try­ing to restart the women’s do­mes­tic game.

Clubs are, how­ever, re­quired to carry out tem­per­a­ture checks on play­ers and will have to fol­low strict dis­tanc­ing pro­to­cols for warm-ups and a re­duc­tion in time spent on pre­par­ing for set-pieces.

The elite women’s game sits separately from the com­mu­nity re­turn to play and is be­ing man­aged in ac­cor­dance with the Gov­ern­ment’s elite per­for­mance guid­ance.

The 2019-20 Premier 15s sea­son was ended pre­ma­turely in March, be­fore be­ing de­clared null and void the fol­low­ing month.

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