Super League clubs to continue training under new Covid-19 lockdown measures as Championship clubs enter two-week pause

Super League clubs will be able to continue their pre-season preparations under the new lockdown measures announced on Monday night.

By Ben McKenna
Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 5:02 pm
Elite rugby league clubs will be allowed to continue to train despite the introduction of lockdown measures. Picture: Allan McKenzie\
Elite rugby league clubs will be allowed to continue to train despite the introduction of lockdown measures. Picture: Allan McKenzie\

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown in less than 12 months with 58,784 positive tests recorded on Monday, representing a sharp rise in infections within the last month.

Elite sport is exempt from the measures, which are largely a return to the restrictions introduced in March, meaning Wakefield Trinity and Castleford Tigers can continue preparations for the 2021 Super League season, which is due to begin on March 11.

The season for Featherstone Rovers, Batley Bulldogs and Dewsbury Rams is due to kick off at the end of February but they will be required to pause training for a two-week period.

An RFL statement read: "The Prime Minister’s announcement of a new National Lockdown for England on Monday night will impact on Rugby League, as all other sports and sections of society, in a number of ways.

"Community Rugby League, which had been due to resume at Youth and Open Age level in January, is now required to be suspended under Government rules. The RFL will be contacting Community Clubs and whilst recognising that the priority remains the public health emergency, will continue to stress to Government, working with other sports, the importance of team sports in terms of the nation’s mental and physical fitness, and the importance of Community Clubs in terms of social cohesion – and will work towards a return of training then competitions as soon as possible this spring.

"The RFL has advised clubs in Betfred Championship and League 1 to pause their pre-season training programmes for the next two weeks, in recognition of the national crisis, and with more than seven weeks until the scheduled start of the 2021 season.

"This will allow detailed discussions with clubs, before the publication of fixtures – which will be delayed, as will the draw for the first two rounds of the Challenge Cup, until a further announcement later this month.

"Academy and Scholarship programmes will also be suspended, and Betfred Women’s Super League clubs will also be advised to pause their pre-season training programmes – although it is hoped the England Women and Wheelchair squads will continue with their training camps in January and February as previously scheduled.

"The RFL will continue to work closely with Betfred Super League clubs to ensure the protocols around their pre-season training programmes evolve to reflect the current landscape and understanding of the disease."