A RETURN to matches has moved nearer after the Rugby Football Union updated its coronavirus guidance.

The government have approved a move from Stage B to C, allowing some training in larger groups.

It remains non-contact, but allows an increase from six players at a time to 20.

The sport is though still some way off a return to matches, which comes at Stage F.

The RFU hope conditions will allow inter-club activity next month, but it would still be along Ready4Rugby rules, which are non-contact.

As things stand, a return to full matches is viewed as carrying a significantly increased risk and is not permitted.

Steve Grainger, rugby development director at the RFU, said: “We know that players are eager to get back to playing team rugby and whilst we recognise that there will be some disappointment that the 15-a-side contact game cannot yet return, player welfare and safety is paramount and we must continue to manage risk appropriately.

“The reaction of our community clubs over the last few months has been amazing, with many doing incredible work in their local communities.

“We are now delighted that they will be able to put some effort back into getting rugby activity under way.”