Professional Rugby Free to Resume Training While Maintaining Social Distancing

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The government has issued guidance to help Britain’s top professional sportsmen and women return to training safely.

Elite athletes and professional sportsmen and women, including professional rugby, can resume performance training under new guidance published by the government. The guidance is a significant step towards a safe resumption of live sport behind closed doors.

The guidance, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has been developed in close consultation with the Deputy Chief Medical Officers of England, Public Health England and medical representatives across Olympic, Paralympic and professional sports governing bodies.

It will help to ensure athletes can initially carry out individual performance training at an official elite training venue, under carefully controlled medical conditions, providing they keep two metres apart at all times from their team mates and other people outside their household.

All athletes and staff must also adhere to the existing social distancing guidelines travelling to and from, and during, training at this stage, and adhere to all other restrictions applying to the general population outside training.

The guidance follows the Government’s publication of its COVID-19 recovery strategy, as it takes forward the next phase of its response to the virus.

“The announcement today from DCMS, that elite sports can restart is welcome and enables us to consider plans for a return to individual training with social distancing in selected performance training facilities across Premiership Rugby,” said a Rugby Football Union statement.

“While much has been done in recent weeks to establish protocols around a safe return to training and ultimately competition, there is still significant work to do and discussions to be had with players and staff before any form of training can resume, their welfare will be at the heart of our decisions.

“This announcement relates only to the restarting of individual training with social distancing in Premiership Rugby. The RFU will continue to work with government and other sporting bodies to provide guidance on return to training in the community game, Greene King IPA Championship, Rugby Sevens and Tyrrells Premier 15s ahead of next season. We will continue to keep everyone informed when RFU guidance is issued.”

Guidance also includes safeguards such as the deep cleaning of facilities and the screening of athletes and staff for COVID-19 symptoms before they can enter.

All athletes and support staff will be expected to engage in a 1 on 1 check-in prior to any resumption of organised training, to ensure they have understood the sport-specific risks and mitigations, training site protocols in place, and are physically and mentally well enough to proceed.

Regular screening for COVID-19 symptoms will also be expected to be carried out on every athlete by an appropriately trained healthcare professional.

Guidance on step one has been published on and comes into effect immediately. Step two will incorporate a level of social clustering, so that players can get match-fit ahead of any resumption of competitive, top level sport once medical experts advise this is safe and appropriate. Additional guidance will follow on step two in due course.

The plan intends to minimise the risk to the elite sports community, while also minimising any pressure elite sport places on healthcare workers and the wider community during any resumption of training. Like all changes to current measures it will be kept under review in accordance with the Government’s Covid alert system.

This story first appeared on the RFU website, to view please click [here]

For more information from SAPCA on Coronavirus, please click [here]