Return to Rugby Updates - May 2020

May 04 2020

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Return to Rugby Plans Starting to Emerge in Various Nations - Expect a Phased In Approach Driven by Government Regulations

Various articles have come out today talking about the RTR (Return to Rugby) protocols as World Rugby has released a document "Safe Return to Rugby - in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic" to the national unions. The document was created April 27th. Some journalists in the UK have seen it and written it up, links to the Wales Online and Guardian articles are appended below. The full document is available off the World Rugby site at this link.

We did see a Power Point presentation on the World Rugby site that references it and the link to that is below as well.

There are also news reports from Africa, Asia and Australia that reference Return to Play protocols, these are linked as well.

Basically we're a ways off, expect more details to emerge over the next few weeks, but it will be a phased reintroduction and be driven by government restrictions being lifted. So we'll find each country will be on a slightly different schedule as perhaps will various provinces within Canada.

At a club level it's possible basic protocols like temperature checking will have to be implemented but it's wait and see on that and the BCRU will be the official source of information on protocols.

We'll keep tracking the progress of rugby and RTR protocols in various countries and provide updates here.

World Rugby - Player Welfare Links

This page has a number of documents relating to RTR (Return to Rugby) protocols set up by various unions. Including:

NZRU - RTR Protocols

Swiss Rugby Union Return to Play Poster

View All Documents

World Rugby Guidelines - according to Wales Online

World Rugby has outlined the detailed path for the sport's return to action in a document drawn up by the Wales team’s medical chief Prav Mathema and a number of other experts.

The guidelines, which can be updated and changed at any time as governments tackle the coronavirus pandemic, are extensive with there being strict requirements on all teams, whether they are professional or amateur.

They provide the framework for national unions, such as the WRU, to create policies for a return to activity in their own jurisdiction which comply with local laws, including those on social distancing and public travel (PST).

Under the guidelines, players would initially have to remain 1.5 metres apart during training, travel alone to matches and shower at home after training. All players and staff would also be encouraged to wear face masks.

The restrictions would be loosened over a series of phases that could each last a number of weeks.

Initially, players, coaches and staff must undertake daily screening which includes:

- Completing a symptom COVID-19 questionnaire before leaving home to identify if they have had a high temperature or fever overnight, developed a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or are feeling unwell.
- If they have, they should remain at home, contact their team or own doctor.
- All players having their temperature checked prior to entering their team’s clubhouse or training facility.
- If a person’s temperature is above 37.5 centigrade they will be sent home and advised to contact their team or own doctor.
- Adhere to hygiene rules which include regular disinfection of heavily used areas and surfaces.


It’s suggested, once government social distancing measures are reduced and schools and non-essential business reopen, small group training gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed, subject to adequate club screening capacity.

A further reduction of PST [public safety testing] measures, allowing gatherings of up to 50 would allow full squad non-contact training, again subject to club screening.

The resumption of full contact training would be permitted when PST measures or a specific Government exemption allow. This would need to be backed up by screening, testing and contact tracing.

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World Rugby Guidelines - According to the The Guardian

Elite rugby matches are likely to be played behind closed doors until an effective coronavirus vaccine is freely available, according to guidelines released by World Rugby.

The document, compiled by World Rugby’s leading medical experts, raises the possibility of the autumn Tests, next year’s Six Nations and even the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa being played in empty stadiums or in front of radically reduced attendances.

The guidelines also advise that no competitive matches should even take place until governments allow gatherings of 250 people, casting major doubt on the completion of the 2019-20 Premiership season.

On Sunday, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, is expected to announce a gradual easing of the lockdown but it is highly likely that only small gatherings will be allowed. Indeed, it has been suggested that gatherings could be limited to 10 people until next year, which, according to World Rugby’s guidelines, could mean no competitive matches at all until 2021. If they are permitted, it is suggested they take place without large scale crowds, until a vaccine is readily available, which could take up to 18 months. “Large traditional crowds are unlikely in the absence of an effective and freely available vaccine for Covid-19,” reads the document, compiled by Eanna Falvey, Prav Mathema, Mary Horgan and Martin Rafferty.

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Rugby Australia - According to news report

Rugby Australia have submitted a return to play document to the federal government, but the code isn't expected to resume until July.

The 29-page document worked on by RA's return to play committee, includes guidelines and details on biosecurity issues and medical provisions around training.

The return to play committee, includes RA's chief medical officer Warren McDonald, Wallabies back Matt Toomua, RUPA CEO Justin Harrison, and Melbourne Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson plus a number of other RA officials.

It's unlikely RA will make any return to play announcement until next week, with the players expected to have three to four weeks training together before contesting any matches.

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Rugby Africa - According to news report

NAIROBI, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Rugby Africa will review the continent's activities and competitions on May 28 to announce a new roadmap to return to action, officials said on Monday.

Khaled Babbou, Rugby Africa president, said they are in continuous contact with the 54 rugby unions across the continent, regions as well as World Rugby on the possible resumption of action as countries continue to open up after combating the coronavirus.

Kenya was due to stage the Continental Under-20 Junior tournament in Nairobi in May, but the event was postponed among many other international events.

The Nairobi tournament is the only junior tournament in Africa, and eight countries were due to compete for the title. Participating teams in 2020 were Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, Madagascar, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Cote d'Ivoire and Zambia.

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Asia Rugby - According to news report

Asia Rugby are hopeful players will be able to return to rugby in the second half of this year.

The governing body for the game on the continent were among the first to cancel events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They announced at the start of March that all their competitions would be suspended until the end of June at the earliest...

The return to play strategy is based on the pandemic being “under control by way of treatments, vaccines, rapid testing kits widely available, temperature control, track and trace systems”.

There will also be a consideration for the time players need for training and conditioning ahead of the restart of leagues and international competition, as well as air traffic and travel pricing returning to normal.

“We have told our member unions we are still monitoring the global health situation,” Al Dhalai said.

“We will update them by the end of May. We are working closely with World Rugby to establish the return to play methodology.

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Some Slides from World Rugby presentation Regional_Meeting_Follow-up_Eanna_Falvey_EN

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