Club rugby put on hold IRFU suspends Energia Community series and club rugby with immediate effect
Club rugby in Ireland has come to a halt as a result of the new public health restrictions north and south of the border.
The IRFU has confirmed that the Energia Community Series has been paused after three rounds of matches because amateur club rugby is not classified as an elite sport and is thus no longer exempt from training and match restrictions
From Friday, the Northern Ireland Executive has advised that "organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level" cannot take place, while the Government of Ireland has removed the exemption for club championship matches from Level 3 of their Plan for Living with Covid-19.
Clubs south of the border can now only conduct non-contact training in pods of up to 15, while the IRFU is seeking clarification from Northern Irish officials on the impact of the new regulations there.
"Irish Rugby supports all public health measures which keep our community safe and urges all its members to demonstrate safe and responsible behaviour," a union statement read.
"Clubs in all provinces are also reminded of the need to have an updated COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan in place which ensures all activities comply with government guidelines.
"The IRFU with the four provinces will deliver strategic support to clubs in the coming weeks to help them make the most of non-contact training for the purposes of well-being, fitness and skill development."
While club rugby in the United Kingdom remains on hold, it was seen as a significant achievement by the IRFU to get the Community Series off the ground.
Instead of an All Ireland League, which is due to kick-off after Christmas, the clubs took on teams in their own province to limit travel between regions.
The rising number of coronavirus cases had an effect on the leagues, however, with 15 matches in the Men's series and seven in the Women's series declared nil-all draws.