RFU says playing games will 'help unite us all at this time of national mourning'

Queen Elizabeth II presents Australia's Nick Farr-Jones with the Rugby World Cup in 1991 at Twickenham.

Queen Elizabeth II presents Australia's Nick Farr-Jones with the Rugby World Cup in 1991 at Twickenham. - Credit: ADAM BUTLER/PA

The RFU has given the go ahead to play fixtures during the national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II - stressing the communal support that clubs can offer.

Football opted to cancel all fixtures but rugby's governing body in England went the other way.

In a statement, the RFU said: "The overwhelming opinions shared so far within the game are that teams and supporters want to come together to honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to be united in our grief as we express sorrow at her passing.

"Rugby, at its heart, is about community and bringing people together, in good times and in sad.

"Rugby clubs are a source of strength and support during times of uncertainty and we hope that by enabling games and other rugby activity to go ahead this weekend, with families and friends congregating, it will help us all to unite at this time of national mourning.

"We strongly encourage all those playing sport this weekend to respectfully pay tribute to The Queen by holding a minute’s silence ahead of all fixtures.

"This an opportunity for teams from different areas to join together in honouring and celebrating her life."

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They went on to say that should clubs want to postpone, for a myriad of reasons, that their decision will be respected.

The statement continued: "There may be some clubs who will find it more appropriate to postpone their fixture, such as those with closer connections to the Royal Family or those with large numbers of players in the military or emergency services who may be called away to work on official duties as a result.

"If that is the case, both clubs may agree to postpone their fixture this weekend without penalty .

"We trust the rugby community will respect the wishes of those clubs who wish to postpone because of the sad news and what is needed following it.

Guidance for matches and rugby activity for the remainder of the National Mourning period will follow as early as possible next week.

Royston Rugby Club are one of those who will play.

A statement on their website said: "As many people have recognised, the Queen had a joy for life and celebrated many sporting activities

"We have decided that we will respectfully continue our rugby programme through the period of mourning and will include appropriate moments to remember and respect her life in our activities.

"We will hold a minute’s silence at this weekend’s fixtures and training, and all coaches are encouraged to do the same during mid-week training.

"Once plans are confirmed for the funeral we will again review our program to ensure we are able to respectfully show our gratitude and respect for all she has done.

"Please join us in celebrating an incredible life and remembering her in a way that shows the immense respect due."