Return to Play Updates - May 2020

May 13 2020

Steve Lancaster - Manager of High Performance

New Zealand Lead the Way to Return of Community Rugby in Three Phases: Prepare to Train, Prepare to Play and Play - Program Lead by Former Rugby Canada Employee Steve Lancaster - Updates on BC and Canada Situation

It's a small rugby world, Steve Lancaster who was brought in as Manager of High Performance for Rugby Canada from December 2012 to January 2015 is now Head of Participation for New Zealand Rugby. He's overseeing the return of rugby in New Zealand to the community level.

He's quoted in the NZ Rugby Union article, “We're hopeful the 10 person per gathering rule will be increased on 25 May, and when it is, organised training can begin. In the meantime, we encourage participants to register for rugby and start preparing to return to training and playing."

The article goes on to explain the three phases.

NZR’s three stages of preparation (dates subject to change)

Phase 1 Prepare to Train From 14 - 25 May

Rugby clubs work with their Provincial Unions to put procedures in place to ensure all necessary requirements can be met. These include hygiene protocols for people, venues and facilities, requirements for gatherings and contract tracing. No organised rugby training or match activity will occur during this phase.

Phase 2 Prepare to Play (dates to be confirmed, subject to Government advice)

Teams begin pre-season training (including contact training) within NZR’s guidelines and recommendations. This is expected to be a four-week period from 25 May but will be confirmed following confirmation of the government's requirements for gatherings. Pre-season matches may be played in the final week prior to Phase 3.

NZR recommends Sporty's iDMe online contract tracing system.

Phase 3 Play (dates to be confirmed, subject to Government advice)

If restrictions on mass gatherings are increased from 25 May, competition fixtures can begin from 20 June.

Provincial Unions can set competition start dates to suit the needs of their own communities.

Lancaster said the Prepare to Play period is mandatory to support player safety and well-being. It also allows Provincial Unions, clubs and schools time to establish safety plans in order to meet the required public health measures.

Read the Full Article

In BC and Canada the picture is a little murky. Rugby Canada announced a committee to study the matter, to be chaired by BCRU CEO Annabel Kehoe but there is little information on their timeline or process.

We did get this update from Annabel Kehoe,

"BC Rugby’s job will be to utilise the National Return to Rugby Plan and align activities to the phases outlined in BC’s Restart Plan, ensuring adherence to the instructions of BC’s Provincial Medical Officer. In addition to navigating the Provincial Government's phased restrictions, we're working with relevant agencies to understand how municipalities will be opening sports fields, and we're also working closely with Rugby Canada to understand the limitations of the National Insurance Policy, as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not a straight forward undertaking. Resuming full-contact XVs competitions is likely to be some time away. Therefore, we will be working hard to find rugby solutions, both training and matches, for each of the phased easing of restrictions that we must follow to keep all communities safe."

In BC the government is providing little clarity around the return of specific amateur sports, the latest is from viaSport.

viaSport May 11th 2020
[from Minister of Sport Lisa Beare]

I have asked the team at viaSport to work with groups in the sport sector in developing a set of guidelines on how to operate safely and start to resume play during this pandemic.

The Provincial Health Officer’s direction is that guidelines should cover three things:

- processes to open safely
- measures to keep people safe to avoid further outbreaks
- and a plan in the event that a case or an outbreak should occur.

The guidelines should consider how organizations will operate for athletes, coaches, staff, and volunteers.

Each sport sector will have unique aspects that need to be modified to effectively follow the PHO orders and recommendations. For some sports, this return to play will be easier than in others. For example, sports with limited player-to-player contact will likely find it easier to adapt to the PHO’s parameters around physical distancing. I know viaSport has already reached out to you directly for your advice on what is possible for your specific sport. We ask that you thoughtfully and carefully interpret the PHO’s orders and recommendations as you work with viaSport to develop your guidelines. Our common goal is to support a safe return to sport.

May 13, 2020, 12 p.m. Update

The Provincial Government has released a checklist that businesses and organizations should consult while planning for reopening to ensure they are safely operating and reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Here are some news reports that touch on the subject.

Global News May 6th 2020
On Wednesday, the province laid out its timeline to resume activities, which included a goal of resuming sports and recreation — with added safety precautions — in mid-May. “Low contact sports, especially those outdoors, are considered safer. Identify high contact sports that should not take place during the pandemic,” according to the guidelines.

CBC April 28th 2020
Soccer, lacrosse, field hockey being lined up as 1st kids sports to return to action in B.C.

The B.C. Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) and Sport B.C. have teamed up on a new task force that is working with provincial sport organizations and health officials to come up with guidelines that could allow some athletic activities to return this spring and summer.

Representatives from the two organizations say only outdoor sports are under consideration right now and the priority is to open up summer sport camps for kids.

Organizations mentioned in the article

Rugby Canada
BC Rugby Union
B.C. Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA)
BC Government - Minister Lisa Beare

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