The IRFU has announced that club rugby matches will be permitted to be played in September as part of the union's Return to Rugby programme during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport's governing body in Ireland has added a 'Competition Stage' to their Guidelines for Clubs, which will allow for the 2020/21 season to start in September.

The return date has also factored in a five-week contact training phase ahead of a return to competition, while the IRFU also stated that a modified season is being planned for the 20/21 campaign.

"The IRFU are now in a position to add a 'Competition Stage' to their Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs," read a statement released on Thursday.

"This is to allow clubs to plan and work towards the start of the 2020/21 season and the playing of rugby matches.

"September has been given as the month in which rugby matches will be permitted to return for clubs.

"Given the changing nature of the reopening of society and the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, a specific date will not be issued until further clarity is available and will remain subject to change.

"The given date will also factor in a minimum window of five weeks permitted for contact training ahead of a return to rugby matches.

"The Competition Stage is the final stage in the summary roadmap of the IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines.

"All clubs are currently in the Covid-19 Safety Planning Stage, which they must complete before moving to the resumption of training at any level.

"The IRFU are working toward a modified season for 2020/21.

"The governing body recognises concerns over travel, safety and expense and this will be reflected in the season’s structure. Clubs should expect that games at the start of the season will be kept local where practicable."