Grassroots rugby on track to resume in the summer
The return of club rugby is edging closer with youth players set to be given the green light to play friendly matches on May 31, while adults can resume on July 5.
Scottish club rugby was suspended in March last year at the start of lockdown and no matches below elite professional level have been played since.
The indicative dates for the game’s restart at grassroots level are a welcome sign of a return to normality but no date has yet been given for the resumption of the league programme.
With the 2019-20 campaign being declared null and void and the 2020-21 never starting, clubs have been consulted on how they would like the new season to pan out.
Clubs will be given dispensation to play friendlies throughout the summer to help ease them back into competitive action and there is also optimism that there will be some sevens tournaments, notably in the Borders.
There is no information yet as to when spectators will return.
“It’s really exciting times, we’re moving really positively through our timeline,” said Neil Graham, Scottish Rugby’s development department.
“On Monday most areas moved to Level 2 and that enables all age groups to play a minimum of touch rugby. Contact training can take place at mini and youth level which is fantastic.
“Our hope is that we’ll see friendly fixtures over the summer period and some of the clubs who are looking to run sevens festivals and tournaments in August - some of the Borders clubs - we hope that they will be able to go ahead.
“That would be fantastic for the game and a really good opportunity to get back to what we all love.”
Glasgow and Moray remain in Level 3 for now and Graham said he was working with clubs in those areas to help them work within the Scottish government parameters.
Fears that playing numbers could be down when rugby restarts remain unfounded, with many clubs reporting an eagerness to return after such a long lay-off.
“Anecdotally, we’ve seen some really positive attendances at training over the past year, especially in the youth game,” said Graham. “People are desperate to come back.”
Scottish Rugby has made grants available to assist clubs in their return.