Rugby Union Premiership and Championship clubs in the UK have been given the green light to return to small group training.
Sessions will have to stick to strict health and safety guidelines, with social distancing, daily screening, cleaning and hygiene requirements.
The game has been in lockdown since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic with the Premiership suspended indefinitely, and the Heineken Champions Cup as yet uncompleted.
The international summer tours have all been cancelled and there are hopes the Six Nations may be completed in the Autumn.
The Professional Game Board which incorporates representatives of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Premiership Rugby, Rugby Players Association (RPA) and Greene King IPA Championship clubs has given provisional authorisation for Premiership and Championship Rugby clubs to move to Stage 1: Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance.
Before starting Stage 1, which allows for individual conditioning (or groups of individuals conditioning) in a performance environment with strict social distancing maintained at all times, clubs will need to provide a written declaration to Premiership Rugby and the RFU that they have met a number of key criteria. These include:
- All players and support staff must undertake an Education Module which will inform a formal 'opt-in' process for return to training.
- Confirmation of the appointment of both a Covid-19 Manager and Covid-19 Medical Lead.
- Clear guidance regarding cleaning and hygiene standards for training facilities.
- The provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate for the setting.
- Confirmation of a daily medical screening for players and support staff, which involves the completion of a symptom checklist and temperature check before entering the training facility.
No timescale has been set for clubs to move to Stage 2 or Stage 3 which involves the safe return of Premiership Rugby.
"The clubs will need to satisfy a number of requirements to start Stage 1 as we continue the huge amount of work being undertaken to enable a safe return to training", said Chris Booy, Professional Game Board Chair.
"The welfare of the players, management and staff is our only priority, and we look forward to the season resuming when it is safe to do so."