While the timeline for the return of competitive matches is dependent on the Welsh Government’s next steps in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, during a webinar attended by more than 300 club representative, the WRU clarified how rugby clubs and groups in Wales can start to plan their return to non-contact training within small groups in Wales from August 1.
The return to club-organised training is dependent on the completion of a period of education and preparation steps and caveats.
1. All coaches, players – or parents of junior players – will be asked to complete World Rugby’s online Covid-19 Return to Play awareness course. They must then complete the WRU’s online registration process which will open on August 1. Once they are fully registered, players and coaches may take part in club-organised training sessions. These will be organised in small groups of between 10 and 15 players and should focus on fitness, skills and small-sided, non-contact games within training groups. Club Operations Managers will be provided with detailed Return to Rugby guidelines and invited to a sanctioned training webinar later this week. This will cover areas such as behaviours and hygiene before, during and after training, the use of equipment and the organisation of training pitches to keep training groups separate. There will be an online symptom checker to complete ahead of all training sessions via the WRU Game Locker.
2. Clubs need to be prepared. There will be additional webinars on preparing facilities, on funding and updated First Aid procedures which will cover the use of relevant PPE where necessary. The WRU is in talks with suppliers of PPE and will update clubs on this area.
3. A phased approach is vital. The first phase of training will be held in groups of 10 – 15 and significant further easing of restrictions, especially when it comes to social distancing, will need to take place before contact training can begin. Further guidance on gradually increasing group sizing and will be provided at the appropriate time.
WRU Operations Director Julie Paterson said: “We are determined to be part of the solution to Covid-19 and for that to happen it is important we all work together. The safety of everyone involved in Welsh community rugby and their wider communities is of paramount importance and when rugby returns, we all want it to return for good.
“We will utilise the immediate period ahead of August 1 to help prepare clubs and groups to return to the first stage of club-organised rugby training.”
WRU Community Director Geraint John added, “Although these are unforeseen and enforced circumstances, it is also a fantastic opportunity for coaches and players to hone individual and team skills that will benefit the game in the long-term. We will provide ideas and resources for coaches but we are also asking them to be innovative and to encourage creativity.”