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West Norfolk Rugby Club in blow as return to competitive rugby is delayed until 2021

West Norfolk Rugby Club's hopes of returning to competitive action this weekend have been dashed following the suspension of all rugby leagues below the championship until January 2021.

The RFU governance committee have made the difficult decision that, with the exception of Premiership, Championship and Premier 15s rugby, no leagues including merit tables, adult or age grade competitions will be played before next year.

West Norfolk were due to kick off their campaign at home to Wymondham in Conference A of London 2 North East on Saturday.

Rugby ActionBetween West Norfolk Rugby Club. v Wisbech Rugby Club.. (24302901)
Rugby ActionBetween West Norfolk Rugby Club. v Wisbech Rugby Club.. (24302901)

A statement on Englishrugby.com tonight read: "With the increased uncertainly caused by Government’s additional restrictions to curb the increase in Covid-19 cases across the country, the decision has been made so that we can provide clubs with some certainty over the next few months.

"The rugby community can continue to organise non-contact fixtures with other clubs using Ready4Rugby and other touch rugby activity. Limited and restricted contact rugby training can also be continued.

"The RFU continues to be in active dialogue with government about moving to Stage E on the Roadmap should we reach this point at any time before Christmas, competitive friendly matches could commence.

"The Adult and Age Grade Competitions Groups will be making recommendations to Governance on what they can do to ensure that any competitions from January are meaningful, including whether to make changes to the structured season.

"Governance also agreed that any decision to suspend promotion and relegation for the 2020/21 season would be referred to Council once the nature of the competitions is known.

"Further guidance will be provided in due course to support clubs, schools, colleges and universities in playing to the relevant stage of the appropriate Roadmap stage."

Jeff Blackett, RFU president, added: “We are very keen to see competitive rugby being played again. "However, given the introduction of further restrictions to curb the increase in Covid-19 cases, we will not be able to move to Stage F on the Roadmap until a later date.

"This announcement gives clubs clarity over the immediate term to help them with their planning.

"We will continue to liaise with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Public Health England to accelerate a return to competitive play as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The news will come as a bitter blow to West Norfolk following confirmation of the Gatehouse Lane outfit's promotion from London 3 Eastern Counties in early April.

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