Return to Rugby Updates – January 2021

*BCRU Issues Update on Return to Rugby: Extension of Current Public Health Order Continues to Friday, February 5, 2021*

from BCRU

January 8, 2021 (Vancouver, BC) – Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the extension of the current Public Health Order through to Friday, February 5, 2021, at midnight. This includes the restrictions that are in place for sport, which includes reduced participant numbers and 3 metres physical distancing maintained at all times. The Public Health Order, which was most recently updated on December 24, 2020, can be viewed here.

Although these restrictions have been extended until February 5, our December 3 suspension of all rugby programming will still expire today, January 8th. This would allow for Phase 2 sanctioned Clubs to amend their COVID Safety Plans to be approved for limited programming to youth players only.

However, BC Rugby highly recommends that Clubs wait until after February 5 to resume rugby activities. We believe these current constraints to be impractical to maintain while delivering fun, rewarding rugby safely. We know that there is light at the end of this tunnel and anticipate that we will be able to return to Phase 3 Safety Plans in February/March 2021 (unless further restrictions and/or extensions from the Public Health Officer, of course).

What can be delivered prior to February 5?

Under the current Public Health Order, sanctioned Clubs may only deliver Phase 2 Rugby programming to youth participants with one significant change: all participants must “maintain a distance of three metres from one another while engaged in the group sport”.

To comply with both the Public Health Order and Rugby’s Phase 2, this means:

-outdoors only
-10 person cohorts
-3 metres physical distancing by players and coaches
-skills and fitness only
-absolutely no spectators

How can my Club deliver rugby prior to February 5?

Any Club wishing to navigate these constraints must first update their Phase 2 COVID Safety Plan to comply with the current Public Health Order. This must be submitted and approved by BC Rugby before any programming is delivered. Clubs will also be required to do the following to demonstrate compliance with the PHO (and thereby, benefit from the Ministerial Order providing COVID liability protection to amateur sport organisations):

-Limit cohorts to 10 participants (Field capacity may still be 50 participants)
-Amend all relevant Team Sheet Panels within Sportlomo to reflect the 10 person cohorts
-Any spectating is not allowed to remain compliant with the Order
-Maintain 3 metres physical distancing between all participants at all times to remain compliant with the Order

Please reach out to Brynna Walker, BC Rugby COVID Safety Manager (bwalker@bcrugby.com), if you’re considering to adapt your Phase 2 COVID Safety Plans under these restrictions. We are here to help.

What does this mean for Rugby in 2021?

Based on conversations with viaSport, COVID modelling from 2020 and vaccination timelines as communicated by the Public Health Officer, we anticipate the following:

-February/March, 2021: Phase 3 Return to Rugby (intra-club only, non-contact rugby)
-April/May through to Summer 2021: Phase 4 Return to Rugby (4 Club divisional play, modified contact rugby)
-Fall 2021: normal resumption 2021/22 Senior & Age-Grade Leagues, possibly with delayed start to fixtures to allow all players time to safely return to full contact, as well as some scheduling considerations to reduce risk of community transmission.

Phase 4 Return to Rugby activities (i.e. inter-club competition, modified contact), unfortunately, is further away than we had originally anticipated. We remain hopeful that some type of competition will be possible after Spring-break, at the very least, ‘end of season’ regional tournaments.

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