Rugby union: RFU bans Littleborough for playing for seven days due to Covid

Date published: 21 November 2023

The Rugby Football Union has banned Littleborough Rugby Union Football Club from playing for a seven-day period until 24 November due to “multiple confirmed cases” of Covid.

After several players tested positive for the illness, Littleborough RUFC sought advice ahead of the senior men’s first XV game from the Lancashire RFU.

The north west body then got in touch with the RFU, which is understood to have advised for LRUFC not to engage with any other clubs for a seven-day period.

The ban extends from the men’s side to ladies, minis, juniors and colts, with Littleborough allowed to play again from 25 November.

The ruling – made on 17 November - comes under the RFU’s Covid-specific regulation 22, which grants the RFU the power to suspend, delay, cancel, rearrange or abandon “any or all matches and rugby activity” in response to “nationwide or regional/localised Covid-19 related restrictions.”

However, there are no regional or national Covid restrictions in place in the UK, and the NHS no longer advises self-isolation, instead suggesting ‘trying to stay home and avoiding contact with other people.’

By contrast, the RFL – which oversees union’s rugby league sibling – does not advise the shutting down of community teams or clubs. It has not advised this since government advice was updated in February 2022.

A spokesperson for the RFU said: “On Thursday Littleborough RUFC reported at least 14 positive Covid cases to their league secretary. 

“Based on the information provided by Littleborough RUFC, the league secretary for Counties 2 ADM Lancashire and Cheshire, under RFU regulation 22.3.1, took the decision to suspend rugby activity at the club in order to help prevent wider impact on the rugby community.

“As it appears that different information regarding the number of cases has since been reported, it is now important to understand what the situation actually was and then take any appropriate next steps.”

In a statement posted on social media on 18 November, Littleborough RUFC said: “Multiple confirmed cases [of Covid] were reported to the club by the coach, along with 11 other players unavailable due to injuries and unknown illness.

“The club asked what the position would be for postponing the senior men’s first XV game and if any Covid protocols were still in place to Lancashire’s league secretary.

“The club did not know the answer, so sought advice from the league secretary. They, in turn, advised the club to contact Lancashire RFU.

“Lancashire RFU then contacted the RFU to confirm what protocol, if any, needed to be followed.

“The RFU then responded by saying that due to the potential risk of contamination to the wider community, all games involving LRUFC must be postponed for seven days.

“We are currently in contact with LRFU and the RFU to clarify the club’s position for training this week.

“The club are sincerely sorry for the cancellations of all scheduled games and training sessions this weekend. The committee apologise again for the inconvenience this has caused.”

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