Ralph Rimmer
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer helped secure the sport a £16m loan in 2020, but none of the RFL’s league competitions were able to resume post-Covid-19

Men’s Championship and League One clubs have been asked to halt pre-season preparations for two weeks by the Rugby Football League as it considers the impact of the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

Second-tier clubs are scheduled to begin their season in late-February.

But clarification about League One’s start date has been put back.

It had been expected that the details for the third-tier, plus opening rounds of the 2021 Challenge Cup would be revealed early in the new year.

Neither of the RFL’s competitions – away from the independently-run Super League – were able to resume in 2020, after starting the season before the pandemic.

“The RFL has advised clubs in Betfred Championship and League 1 to pause their pre-season training programmes for the next two weeks, in recognition of the national crisis and with more than seven weeks until the scheduled start of the 2021 season,” an RFL statement said.

“This will allow detailed discussions with clubs, before the publication of fixtures – which will be delayed, as will the draw for the first two rounds of the Challenge Cup, until a further announcement later this month.”

The government’s decision to introduce a third national lockdown has forced the suspension of all non-elite sport.

League’s governing body now hopes for a return to training and competition “by the spring”.

It is hoped women’s and wheelchair international training camps will be able to go ahead, the Women’s Super League competition is also expected to pause its preparations.

Their 2020 season was completely wiped out by the initial coronavirus outbreak.


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