World Rugby publishes COVID-19 return to rugby guidelines
– Dey says GRFU will abide by MoH guidelines
World Rugby has published guidelines for the safe return to rugby activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developed by medical experts following consultation with union chief medical officers, competition owners and players, the guidelines are intended to assist unions, clubs, and competitions in creating a framework and policy for return to rugby activity within their respective jurisdictions.
Unions and competition owners will need to comply with local laws and policies implemented by Government or local authorities in relation to COVID-19, including social distancing and travel measures. For the avoidance of doubt, this does not mean that matches will have to be played behind closed doors until a vaccine is available – the strategy will be determined by the respective national government directives.
The guidelines have two core sections containing important information. The first section provides safety information to everyone involved in the game including players, coaches, and support and administrative staff. The second section provides a framework around which national unions can prepare best-practice policies and guidelines for return to activity that are appropriate to their local setting, complying with national guidelines on social distancing and travel restrictions.
The guidelines, which are World Health Organisation (WHO)-compliant, outline three dedicated time-bound return-to-training phases – small group training, full group non-contact training and full-contact training. It also documents the environment for returning to match action in domestic, cross-border and cross-continent contexts and processes for facility and stadium preparation.
In an interview with Guyana Times Sport, GRFU President Ryan Dey said, “This is a giant step in the right direction. It means that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel sooner than later for rugby to begin playing. In terms of what the GRFU will have to do to ensure certain measures are taken for a possible restart of rugby in a safer way – well, the players’ well-being is the top priority of the Union and with cases still rising in Guyana, it would be careless for the GRFU to initiate a conversation about playing rugby at this moment.
“We will work with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health (MoH). When they say it’s safe to be outside, then rugby will be played in Guyana. For now, the players just have to keep fit and stay safe.”
The guidelines were authored by Falvey, Dr Martin Raftery (World Rugby); Prav Mathema (Welsh Rugby Union); Professor Mary Horgan (consultant physician of infectious diseases) and supported by data collected through regional COVID-19 steering Group Chairs who consulted with World Rugby’s 124 national member unions.