The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has published there plans for the return to rugby, with a ‘preferred option’ as well as a ‘public health contingency’ plan. The plans will see a return for both the UCD men’s and women’s rugby teams, as the Energia All-Ireland leagues and Energia Community series are hopeful to get underway after the summer.

In a statement released by the IRFU on Monday, the roadmap for the return to rugby for the 2021/2022 season was laid out, which included the graduated return of training activities during the summer, ‘when public health measures allow’.

“We will begin with a summer of fun and participation for players of all levels, ages and abilities,” the IRFU statement said. “Clubs can opt in or out with a focus on fun through different game formats which may include Touch Rugby, Tag Rugby, 7s Rugby, 10s Rugby and 15s Rugby. Localised friendlies can also be facilitated, where permitted.”

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While the details of the domestic competitions have not yet been confirmed, due to the uncertainty of the prevailing public health guidelines, the IRFU have planned for the return of competitive rugby tournaments in August. “It is intended to run a full Energia All-Ireland League with 50 teams in the men’s competition and 10 teams in the newly expanded women’s competition,” the IRFU statement said. “Through their AIL forum, a majority of clubs have expressed a preference for a full 18-game regular season.

“If public health or other factors do not permit a full All-Ireland competition, the contingency is an Energia Community Series at provincial level in the first half of the season followed by a shorter format Energia All-Ireland League in 2022.”

Prior to the lockdown and subsequent cancellation of the 2020/2021 season, UCD’s men’s rugby side had won one and lost one in their Community Series campaign.

Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor