England's Premier 15s clubs can return to training under the latest stages of a phased return to play for the sport.
The clubs can return to training under what is called Stage 1 for Elite Sport Return, which allows for individual conditioning or small groups of individuals conditioning in a performance environment with strict social distancing.
Contact training is not yet permitted.
Clubs will need to provide a written declaration to the RFU that they have met a number of key criteria including:
- All players and support staff must undertake an Education Module which will inform a formal "opt in" process for return to training.
- Confirmation of the appointment of both a Covid-19 Manager and Covid-19 Medical Lead.
- Clear guidance regarding cleaning and hygiene standards for training facilities.
- The provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate for the setting.
- Confirmation of medical screening for players and support staff, which involves the completion of a symptom checklist and temperature check before entering the training facility.
The news will be a boost to the players and clubs involved in a competition which is growing in stature and profile.
The 10-team league is still on the hunt for a major sponsor following news that Tyrrells did not renew their deal recently while the competition could also be expanded in future to include teams from Wales and Scotland according to reports.
Meanwhile, all contracted England Women’s players will have taken part in stage one training by Friday 31 July and will link up with their respective clubs on their return.
Nicky Ponsford, the RFU’s head of women’s performance said: "We’re pleased to confirm Premier 15s teams are able to return to stage one training once they have satisfied the relevant requirements to start.
“We have been in regular and detailed dialogue with all clubs and taken on board individual circumstances.
“After a four-month lockdown period, players need to return to a good training environment to push forward in their physical development.
“Getting clubs back to training and the league up and running is a big priority. Stage one is the first step and we know we need to be flexible given the evolving nature of COVID-19.
“A lot of work has been carried out between the RFU, clubs and wider rugby stakeholders to reach this point and plans to progress to the next stage are being worked through.
"The welfare of the players and staff is our only priority, and we thank clubs for their continued co-operation.
“We’re also holding our annual CPD event with clubs virtually throughout this week. There’s been some great discussion and engagement so far and it’s fantastic to be able to connect and start to look forward to next season.”
No timescale has been set for clubs to move to Stage 2 while no date has currently been set for the start of next season’s Premier 15s.
Top leagues have returned in other countries in the women's game, most notably New Zealand where the regional Farah Palmer Cup is back in late August.