Grassroots clubs dealt blow with news that competitive rugby won't take place until 2021

Grassroots rugby clubs across East Anglia have been dealt a huge blow with the news that competitive matches won't resume until January "at the earliest."

The RFU made the "difficult decision" late on Thursday in response to a rise in coronavirus cases and new restrictions brought in by the government.

All leagues below the Premiership and the Championship will be postponed for the rest of the year, meaning clubs at the levels below will now have to face up to months without competitive fixtures.

However, non-contact and touch rugby fixtures can still be arranged.

The RFU said that they made the decision now to "provide clubs with some certainty over the next few months."

Some experts have warned that that community clubs could lose £86 million in revenue this season as a result of things like lost tickets sales and fans not being able to fill the bars like they normally would.

Non-contact training and matches are still allowed. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Bury St Edmunds, who play in the fourth tier of English rugby, are among the clubs who will be affected by the decision and their head coach Nick Wakley told ITV News Anglia that everyone at the club is trying to remain positive.

"It's very frustrating, I can't lie and say we weren't upset about it," Bury St Edmunds head coach Nick Wakley said.

"But, we have to be positive and we have to look forward and hold on to the fact that there could be rugby at the start of January.

"We're lucky here that we've got two great sponsors and they're supporting us through. There's disappointment but hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel."

Rugby is the latest in a long line of sports to be hit hard by the impact of the pandemic.

The RFU this week joined forces with other sporting bodies, including the FA and the ECB, to plead with the government for some emergency funding to help get clubs through the crisis.