Yesterday’s fourth step in the UK Government’s Covid roadmap allows for venues returning to full capacity, with no social distancing.

That means another significant step back to normality for Rugby League clubs and fans in this week’s fixtures, starting with the Betfred Women’s Super League match between York City Knights and Wigan Warriors at Odsal last night – and continuing through the Betfred Super League, Championship, League 1 and the Community Game.

Throughout the pandemic, the RFL has been working closely with Government and with clubs and other stakeholders – and that has continued in the preparations for Stage 4.

Karen Moorhouse, the RFL’s Chief Regulatory Officer, said: “This week is another big step back to normality for our clubs and fans, and it comes at a positive time for the sport as we reflect on the success of the weekend at Wembley.

“We have been grateful since the limited return of fans to grounds in recent weeks for the way our clubs and fans have worked together in a responsible manner, and the weekend was a great example of that.

“To be included in the Government’s Events Research Programme allowed us to welcome a much higher crowd to Wembley than would otherwise have been the case, and the supporters of the four clubs involved – Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, St Helens and York City Knights – as well as the thousands of neutrals who attend our Challenge Cup Final weekend were a credit to the game.

“This year that involved providing evidence of either a negative Covid-19 test or of having had a double vaccination to gain entry to the stadium – and while that won’t be required to attend regular league matches this week now we have reached Stage 4, we would still encourage supporters to bear in mind Government guidance where possible.

“The Government refers to Stage 4 as ‘a new phase of continued caution whilst managing the risks of COVID-19’. We all owe it to each other to be as safe and responsible as possible to restrict the spread of the virus.

“The same applies to all involved in the Community Game, whether as players or spectators. Again, Stage 4 of the Roadmap involves the removal of a number of restrictions – and again, we are urging clubs and players to implement these changes cautiously and responsibly.”

Rugby League is joining other sports in requesting supporters to bear the following in mind before attending games:

  • Do not attend if you have symptoms or are in any doubt about your health.
  • Please vaccinate where possible to maximise protection to fellow supporters and members of staff. Vaccination remains a key priority in the response to the pandemic.
  • Use the Government’s offer of free lateral flow tests; consider taking one before you travel.
  • If travelling via public transport, please adhere to the relevant guidance.
  • Respect the rules of the venue you are attending and check in advance to see what is required.
  • Wear face coverings in busy indoor areas
  • Ensure you are familiar with social distancing restrictions where these apply
  • Treat stewards with respect and respond to their requests.

The RFL is continuing to work with clubs to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all.