Scottish Rugby publishes Phase 1 Return to Rugby guidelines for clubs and schools

Scottish Rugby publishes Phase 1 Return to Rugby guidelines for clubs and schools

Scottish Rugby publishes Phase 1 Return to Rugby guidelines for clubs and schools.

This document provides a practical guide on the proposed Return to Rugby plans amidst the current Covid-19 pandemic. The following information is aligned to Scottish Government, sportscotland and World Rugby guidelines for Phase 1 of the route map for exiting lockdown. Scottish Rugby is working with the Scottish Government to ensure the domestic game can begin a phased return in line with its lockdown restrictions easing and aiming to help clubs through this process. Further information on future phases will be communicated when appropriate.

The close contact nature of rugby means that there are unique challenges when it comes to the threat of spreading Covid-19 (see appendix 1 in download below). We ask everyone involved in our game to be patient and empathetic throughout this process, which may require extra caution to be taken to ensure we don’t risk spreading the virus further. This added caution may manifest itself by the community game not moving between phases (e.g. Phase 1 to 2) at the same pace as in other sports.

Please also note that Scottish Rugby Return to Rugby guidelines will, at times, differ from other countries and sports. This is due to the unique set of circumstances we as a community currently face here in Scotland, and the complex nature of returning to a contact sport safely.

While we are all eager to return to rugby, the welfare of our friends, family, teammates, communities, and protecting the NHS, must remain a priority.

We firmly believe that rugby will provide a vehicle for safe exercise and social connection once the Government’s phased roadmap is implemented. However, we know that public perception about rugby’s ‘readiness’ to return will be critical, and we, as a rugby community, will need to work together to build confidence and reassure people that rugby is ready.

We will work collaboratively with club, school and community representatives and groups to develop guidelines and resources for each Phase of the Return to Rugby plan.

JUNE 2020


  • Allows unrestricted outdoors exercise adhering to social distancing measures and non-contact outdoor activities in the local area.
  • Permits people to use outdoor spaces for recreational purposes.
  • Allows one household to meet with another household outdoors, in small numbers (max group of 8), but with physical distancing required.
  • Information on the Scottish Government’s approach to managing COVID-19 is available at


  • No organised group rugby training, coaching or games permitted.
  • Players can stay active with people from their own, or 1 other household (with social distancing). Max group size of 8.
  • Rugby club facilities must remain closed, including club houses, toilets, changing rooms, gyms, pitches and retail outlets.

Please be aware that Scottish Rugby is in the process of developing Phase 2 guidance for clubs, players, coaches and partner organisations and will share this once approved by sportscotland and the Scottish Government.

Additional Information


  • Rugby club facilities are to remain closed, including club houses, toilets, changing rooms, gyms, pitches and retail outlets.
  • It is critical that the re-opening of facilities is well planned and carefully managed to ensure that rugby is not responsible for any future outbreaks of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Any easing of restrictions will be incremental, which will likely result in a phased or partial re-opening of facilities rather than being able to fully open at one time. It is expected that, when considered safe to do so, outdoor facilities will reopen before indoor facilities.
  • We recommend that clubs develop a robust plan for their facility that protects the health and safety of all participants. The plan must be developed in line with current Scottish Government guidance and should be reviewed and updated in line with any changes to the restrictions. Please click this link for further details on this, prepared by sportscotland -


  • Until further notice, there will be no competitions, events, or large gatherings for the purpose of community rugby. This includes all levels of the club and school game, from Super6 through to mini rugby.


  • Although school sport is not being considered in Phase 1 of the Scottish Government Route Map, going forward, we will collaborate with this key priority area. Achieving a safe environment to play our sport will help us support schools and communities to provide a platform for physical education.


  • One on one personal training or coaching is permitted if it is outdoors, physical distancing can be maintained, and is with members of your household and/or members of one other household.
  • A coach should not deliver training to more than one household at any one time or provide coaching to more than one household per day. When participating in coaching, where possible, avoid touching surfaces and sharing equipment and touching your mouth and face.


  • During the Return to Rugby process, Scottish Rugby will provide training and education to key personnel within clubs and schools. Minimum standards will also be set for coaches and referees returning to the game to help ensure Scottish Government policies are adhered to.
  • This support will be in the form of online resources, webinars and e-learning courses and workshops.


  • Professional rugby will likely return to training and playing before the club and school game.
  • The ability to create bespoke and safe environments for players and staff, including social distancing, testing and hygiene measures are unique to the professional game.
  • Scottish Rugby is working closely with the Scottish Government on both the return on professional and club / school rugby and will provide updates when available.


Summary of World Rugby Guidelines

Risk in Rugby

Rugby is a contact sport. To fully train and to play matches requires intermittent close physical contact. This type of contact will make all players training and playing close contacts.

Therefore, should a team-mate or opposition player in a recent match develop an infection, all their teammates are likely to be close contacts and require isolation and testing.

Early in the return to training Phase (to be communicated by Scottish Rugby when appropriate), smaller groups will help to offset this risk.

When social distancing and travel restrictions are reduced enough to allow full squad training, risk will be managed by limiting non-team member access to training facilities. Only essential squad and coaching staff members will attend training.

Personal Risk

Regular exercise is beneficial for your immune system. Prolonged, high intensity exercise may dampen the immune system, particularly when the individual is not used to such high-level activity. Therefore, there is a potentially increased susceptibility to COVID-19 infection in athletes. This risk is probably small and if a practical approach is applied, where players do not exceed normal training load, they should be at no higher risk than the non-exercising population.

Those who suffer from underlying illness such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer appear to be more severely affected by COVID-19. So too are older patients (>60) and those who are severely obese (BMI 40+).

Scottish Rugby is working with the Scottish Government on both the return of professional and club/school rugby and will provide updates when available.

Spread the word

Newsletter Sign-up

Sign-up for our newsletter today to receive the latest updates, content and releases from Scottish Rugby.


Principal Partners

Peter Vardy logo