World Rugby has outlined that professional rugby games can be run with a minimum of 167 personnel as they chart a path towards the safe return of the sport.
The phased approach to resuming training and matches was developed by Irish medics Dr Éanna Falvey (World Rugby Chief Medical Officer) and Prof Mary Horgan (consultant physician of infectious diseases), along with Dr Martin Raftery and Prav Mathema.
The return to training is approached in three phases, from small groups, to non-contact training involving the full squad, and, finally, full-contact training.
Once that is achieved, with permission from individual governments, regional competitions will begin first, in front of gatherings of less than 200 people and with testing measures. Cross-border games will follow once borders are opened and the need for quarantine is removed. Trans-continental games, such as internationals between the northern and southern hemisphere teams, are the next stage, before restrictions are fully removed post-vaccine.
"Rugby is a contact sport," reads the report. "To fully train and to play matches requires intermittent close physical contact. This type of contact will make all players training and playing close contacts. Therefore, should a team-mate or opposition player in a recent match develop an infection, all their teammates are likely to be close contacts and require isolation and testing."
To limit this risk, players will undergo daily clinical screening and, for suspected coronavirus cases, tests for Covid-19. They will have to avoid shaking hands or embracing, spitting, and sharing water bottles or communal nutritional supplements. Players are also advised to change and shower at home and travel in individual cars.
The 167 personnel to facilitate a professional match include 29 players, subs, bench support, and travelling reserves for each team. Both teams will be permitted a doctor, physio, two water carriers, and five coaches.
Also included are paramedics, referees, a television match official, citing commissioner, statistics and communications staff, and ball boys.
The largest contingent is broadcasting, with 20 pitch-side crew required, including cameramen, line runners, and a floor manager, plus 15 staff in a outside broadcasting van, and a six-person commentary unit.
Large crowds are "unlikely in the absence of an effective and freely available vaccine for Covid-19".
In Ireland, a return of close physical contact sports like rugby is permitted in phase five of the government's roadmap to easing restrictions, with an estimated date of August 10.
“We have been working in full collaboration with unions, regions, competitions, and players in preparing a set of guidelines that are WHO compliant in a rugby context,” said Falvey.
“They outline all the necessary considerations and steps for players, coaches, clubs, unions, and competitions and will be updated regularly as the advice and environment evolves.
“Initial feedback has been extremely positive, and it is certainly prudent that we have a standardised and ready-to-mobilise approach when it is safe and appropriate to resume steps towards playing in the context of easing social-distancing measures.”
Minimum personnel required to deliver a match:
Home team players 15
Visiting team players 15
Home team substitutes and bench support 11
Visiting team substitutes and bench support 11
Home team travelling reserves 3
Visiting team travelling reserves 3
Home team roving Doctor 1
Visiting team roving Doctor 1
Home team roving Physiotherapist 1
Visiting team roving Physiotherapist 1
Home team Technical box (water carriers) 2
Visiting team Technical box (water carriers) 2
Home team Coaches box 5
Visiting team Coaches box 5
Match Day Doctor 1
Immediate Care Lead 1
Medical room video viewer 1
Other medical specialists 2
Medical room video operator 1
Security guards 4
Assistant Referee 2
Side-line Referees, time keeper, statistics and communications 7
Television Match Official 1
Citing Commissioner 1
Ball team and ball team supervisor 7
Match Manager 1
Match Director 1
Broadcaster pitch-side crew (cameramen, line runners & floor manager) 20
Outside broadcasting van 15
Stadium operations 8
Big screen and PA announcer 2
The full guidelines are available here.