Schools, club rugby given green light

SA Rugby’s executive committee have approved amateur rugby, including schools rugby, to return to training with immediate effect under strict conditions.

This comes after the easing of adjusted level-three lockdown regulations, with infection rates on a downward curve. A working group from SA Rugby, consisting of SA Rugby members, provincial unions and the South African Schools Rugby Association (Sasra) made the recommendation to the executive committee, who subsequently gave the go-ahead.

Schools, associations and amateur clubs will only be allowed to resume non-contact training under the following strict circumstances:

  • All the conditions for the return to training of contact sport as published in the relevant Government Gazettes and directions are met;
  • On the publication of any further changes and amendments stipulated in the Government Gazettes and directions must be implemented immediately;
  • Contact sports may only return to train and not to play;
  • All the relevant and applicable health and safety measures are observed and that there is no physical contact between participants during training.

The resumption of amateur rugby will follow a structured approach to ensure that the safety of the players is taken into consideration.

Phase one will consist of a minimum of four weeks of non-contact training. The emphasis during this period will be placed on fitness and strength training.

Phase two will follow phase one, if permitted by the relevant authoritative bodies, and will consist of a minimum of four weeks’ gradual integration of contact training.

During phase three, teams will return to play.

If all goes according to plan, schools and amateur rugby could return on the weekend of 17 April. A number of schools tournaments, including Wildeklawer and the Noord-Suid, have already been cancelled this year. It remains to be confirmed whether the annual youth weeks will go ahead.

‘SA Rugby is the custodian of rugby in South Africa but acknowledges that schools sport falls under the auspices of the Department of Basic Education and therefore must adhere to their rules and regulations,’ SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said in an open letter.

‘Schools have got their own Covid management committees, and together with the school headmaster will provide the final say on whether the school participates in rugby or not. The ultimate responsible person will be the principal of each school.

‘It remains our collective responsibility to ensure that the players and coaches who participate in the game of rugby do so in an environment that does no harm and mitigates against the risk of unnecessary illness and injury.

‘The number of people infected remains high and everyone involved in rugby needs to keep following all health and safety protocols to ensure that the virus does not resurge again. Please ensure that you practise social distancing and wear a mask at all times.’

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Dylan Jack