Medical guidelines released by World Rugby state that matches should be played behind closed doors until a vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic exists.
SA Rugby has been hard at work as they hope to resume some sort of rugby activity in the form of a local competition behind closed doors. South Africa went from Covid-19 alert level 5 to level 4 last Friday, but sporting activities can only resume once the country drops to level 1, according to gazetted regulations.
While SA Rugby is optimistic about starting the tournament before then, it may have to brace itself for a longer period without the revenue generated from large-sized crowds.
According to the Telegraph, the World Rugby guidelines – compiled by medical experts Eanna Falvey, Prav Mathema, Mary Horgan and Martin Raftery – have been issued to all unions. These guidelines advise that rugby should be played behind closed doors until a vaccine for the coronavirus is freely available – which could take up to 18 months.
Further, even when players do return to initial training from the lockdown, they will have to continue to observe physical distancing, wear masks and avoid physical contact. They will also be asked to answer a daily questionnaire and have their temperature taken before entering a training facility. If a player has a temperature above 37.5 degrees, they will be sent home.
Unions are expected to draft their own framework for return to play in line with their respective government’s advice on physical distancing during the coronavirus lockdown. This framework would then be passed to both amateur clubs and professional franchises.
The first stage of the framework will be a return to initial training, which could coincide with government reopening schools and non-essential businesses. However, training is advised to be staggered between groups of between five to 10 players. Guidelines further advise that players and coaching staff ‘wear face masks to prevent possible spread from asymptomatic, infected players’.
Full team training will only happen once gatherings of more than 50 people are allowed, but full contact will have to be planned with local health authorities. Franchises and clubs would also need to comprehensive screen and test their players and coaches.
On World Rugby’s recommendation, competitive matches should only resume once there is full agreement between unions, players, coaches and the competition organisers. Test rugby can only start taking place once countries relax their border-control measures.
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