TAUNTON Titans head coach Tony Yapp said his squad will take a “week by week” approach to training ahead of the 2020/21 season.

Yapp admits that there is difficulty in planning for their inaugural campaign at National 1 level; not only is training limited by social distancing measures, it is not yet known when the season will be able to start.

The sport’s governing body in England - the Rugby Football Union (RFU) - has launched a ‘Return to Community Rugby Roadmap’, designed to support a return to playing after the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

The roadmap consists of six stages, and English rugby is currently at Stage B - small group training - following the government’s latest safety advice.

Small group training allows a group of up to six people to exercise together, while maintaining social distancing - so no physical contact is allowed, and equipment sharing should be kept to a minimum.

It remains to be seen how long it will take to reach Stage F - a return to competitive matches against other clubs.

Yapp told the County Gazette: “It’s a bit difficult - we’re told that we can go out, but social distancing is still important.

“The RFU stages will last for a certain length of time, but we’re not sure how long.

“Our boys are training as individuals, and we have a six-week programme for them.

“They’re split into groups, posting videos of their training to create a bit of competition and spur each other on.

“The last week of June is when we plan to resume training, but that’s not guaranteed.

“The players are aware that we will react to decisions as they are made by the RFU.

“We hope to start doing less work on fitness and more rugby, but we’ll see week by week, and keep tweaking things.”

In terms of when Taunton will be able to make their National 1 debut, Yapp said: “There’s rumours about when the season will start.

“It might still be September, or it could be October.

“We have pre-season games pencilled in, but we’re not sure how things will progress.

“I know that Exeter Chiefs are back training in small groups, to progress to larger groups and then contact training [ahead of the proposed return of Premiership rugby on August 15].

“We’ll see how quickly they can get back to playing, and then how quickly the other levels of rugby can return.”

He added: “The biggest thing for grassroots rugby is having fans at the games.

“I think most clubs would rather start later in order to have supporters in the ground.

“It would be very difficult for us to be playing behind closed doors, and not to have our bar open, as that cuts off a lot of income for the club.”

Whenever the season does get under way, Yapp is confident that his squad will be ready for the challenge.

“There’s been so much preparation for this next season, that there’s been no time to celebrate winning promotion really - we still hope to throw a party at some stage,” he said.

“The boys are excited to play in National 1, and there’s added energy in the group.

“Everyone from last year’s squad has re-signed, and in the coming weeks we hope to announce a handful of new players - four or five - to add quality and depth to the squad, and keep things fresh.

“I’m pleased with the dynamic of our squad, and the standards that the players set for themselves.”