RUGBY clubs across the region moved a small step closer to a phased return to competitive action after the latest training guidelines were announced.

In line with Welsh Government guidance, the Welsh Rugby Union has now sanctioned the inclusion of touch activities as part of fitness and skills-based training sessions at all levels of the game across the country.

However, in order to continue to be part of the solution of the coronavirus pandemic, and with player welfare in mind, all other measures remain in force at this time.

Training should take place in small groups between ten and 15 players, and social distancing still applies to all other parts of training sessions.

Balls and cones are the only equipment currently permitted, with the governing body stressing that the latest easing is not a contact phase of rugby. No matches are to take place against other clubs, hubs or schools.

Geraint John, WRU Community Director, said: “We are pleased to be able to confirm that touch rugby can now be included as part of the fitness and skills-based training sessions currently sanctioned. This will be a welcome addition to rugby activity at all levels but is very much a continuation of our phased return to community rugby.

“Coaches are encouraged to introduce a touch rugby element towards the end of their structured training sessions and to stick to the hygiene measures in place – to sanitise hands and balls every 20 minutes and especially before and after engaging in touch-based activities. This isn’t the green light to exclusively play touch rugby throughout the training session.”

The governing body is working with the Welsh Government in order to move to the next phase of community rugby’s return. This appears to be some way off yet, with the WRU looking for at least six weeks of contact training before the recommencement of any competitive fixtures for player welfare reasons.

This means the likelihood of the season getting underway in October is “highly unlikely”.