This morning, year 8 girls from Cardinal Newman School, Warrington, were the very first young people in the country to return to play with a pre-school Rugby League training session courtesy of the Wolves Foundation, England RL’s Jodie Cunningham and Jason Robinson OBE!

Secretary of State, DCMS, Oliver Dowden MP visited Victoria Park, Warrington to meet the young people and see the new 3G pitch at the community facility which has benefited from a large investment from the CreatedBy RLWC2021 programme for grassroots Rugby League facilities. And to conduct the drawn for the third round of the Betfred Challenge Cup.

Parents and guardians are being urged to help their children follow the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance and aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and adults to aim for at least 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, a week.

It comes as the ‘stay at home’ message ends and ‘rule of six’ is reintroduced, which means that outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households are allowed. Social contact rules will not apply to outdoor, organised team sport.

So, from today, organised outdoor team sports resume. As a contact sport Community Rugby League has a planned, safe and phased return to competitions with outdoor training starting now. 

Only one parent can attend sessions and no spectators are permitted at Community Rugby League training or matches at this time. 

As an indoor sport Wheelchair RL will follow upcoming guidance on indoor facilities. 

Government’s rallying cry reminds us that exercise and outdoor sports like Rugby League are well documented to reduce individuals’ risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower risk of early death by up to 30%. The reopening of the outdoors sports sector will seek to help reduce the impacts of these debilitating diseases and reduce pressure on the NHS.

Physical activity like Rugby League is known to improve health outcomes which can include improving mental health through better sleep, happier moods, and managing stress and anxiety. This was clearly evidenced in the recent ‘These Girls Can’ report into the growth of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League.


Jodie Cunningham, St Helens and England Women Rugby League player and RLWC2021 Ambassador, said:

“The return of grassroots sport is a fantastic moment for everyone who loves sport, and the positive impact it makes on people’s lives. 

“I know the girls from my old school, Cardinal Newman, will be really excited to use these brilliant new facilities at Victoria Park – and there will be so many others of all ages in our Rugby League communities who can’t wait to get back doing what they love.”


Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“The long wait is over. I urge everyone to get their trainers on, get outside and enjoy all of the positive benefits sport can bring.  

“We want to see children be active 60 minutes a day, and adults two and a half hours a week to help us build back fitter, healthier and happier from this pandemic.  

“Sport and physical activity will be at the heart of our national recovery and today marks a really important step forward.”


Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said:

“Over the past year we have prioritised the importance of physical activity, permitting basic exercise at all times. Kids have responded to parents becoming PE teachers, and to Sport England’s ‘Join the Movement’ campaign. However the reality is that activity levels have still dropped in lockdown. 

“That’s why outdoor grassroots sport reopening today is so important. Many have waited patiently for this moment and cannot wait to get back to playing the sports they love. But we want to encourage everyone to get into sport. No matter what age or ability, there will be a sport out there for you.”


Oliver Dowden MP chose Rugby League to mark the national return to play and to celebrate a massive year for the sport with all tiers of the sport back, the Challenge Cup, and RLWC2021 to look forward to.

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