WHARFEDALE head coach Jon Feeley thinks the biggest problem the game might now have is holding onto their players after the Rugby Football Union announced there would be no league rugby happening in the 2020/21 season.

Last week, the governing body made the cancellation to give its community clubs (Level 3 and below for Men, Level 2 and below for Women) some certainty regarding a return.

Ultimately, the RFU could not see a way where promotions and relegations could exist in what would be a shortened campaign.

Feeley understands why the decision was made and thinks we will not see contact rugby until 2021/22.

He said: "When they started the lockdown in March and said they had no real prospect of a vaccine this year, I did not see how a contact sport such as ours could have continued.

"We have now said it is going to be September next year at the earliest to when we are going to see a return of league rugby.

"Realistically, I think the RFU are giving themselves time to wait until that vaccine comes through and then we can get back to normality. It is the grey area between now and then that we need to fill."

It is during this time that the Greens boss fears young players maybe persuaded to look elsewhere.

Although, with the second lockdown beginning today, he feels that could play into the sport's hands.

Feeley continued: "There is two big problems; clubs being able to stay afloat financially and keeping hold of players in the amateur environment from other sports.

"It is a player retention issue that they need to focus on and they need to find a replacement even if it is a local competition.

"It is difficult because what is the target for young players?

"There needs to be something on the horizon otherwise they will drift off to other sports which are allowed to be in competition.

"It (lockdown) means other non-elite sports don't play either. So for this period, we have got breathing space to have a thinkof what to do when we do return from lockdown."

Wharfedale had been keeping busy in a six-team two-touch non-contact tournament which was set up around the district including the likes of North Ribblesdale and Skipton.

Feeley thought it was great to see the players back competing and would hate to see rugby go backwards upon its return from lockdown.

He added: "They can't go back to the first stage (of the Return to Rugby roadmap). It was incredibly difficult to keep players motivated and interested when you were only allowed to work in bubbles of six.

"I have been in contact with the RFU about the games that they are proposing and they weren’t that far away from getting a hybrid game in place for November. Unfortunately, the spike has meant that it has just been put to one side. It is a real shame."