The IRFU has stressed to domestic rugby clubs the importance of putting in place a safety plan for a resumption in training and playing activity as it published further details for phase one of its Return To Rugby Guidelines.
As the Government announced a return to training for elite athletes and teams in groups of up to 15 people from Monday, amateur players are being asked to be more patient as Ireland’s governing body said it remained in a Covid-19 safety planning stage as part of its preparations for a new season in the autumn.
Clubs saw the domestic rugby season from the Energia All Ireland Leagues down ended with immediate effect on March 19 as the coronavirus pandemic began to impact on everyday life in this country.
Now they are being asked to implement a series of measures in order to be ready for a safe resumption when contact training and playing is permitted in the final phase of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
These will include the recommendations that every club appoints a Covid-19 club safety officer and Covid-19 club compliance officers, that they avail of training and education support, and also “complete a Covid-19 health and safety plan (including a risk assessment)”.
The IRFU is offering the training and education support to assist with safety planning, starting with a webinar for the newly appointed Covid-19 clubs safety officers next Tuesday, June 9, at 8pm.
“The purpose of the webinar is to offer access to health and safety expertise and medical expertise ahead of putting Covid-19 safety measures into practice in their club,” an IRFU statement said. “Covid-19 club safety officers are asked to contact their dedicated provincial support for access to the webinar.”
IRFU director of rugby development Colin McEntee reiterated that returning to rugby will continue to be led by government directives.
“There is a Covid-19 safety plan for almost every walk of life at present,” McEntee said. “Every time a rugby club member walks into a shop, onto public transport, or into their local park, there is a safety plan guiding their actions to minimise risk. We want the same to be true of their rugby club.
“We are in the Covid-19 safety planning stage of our return to rugby roadmap. We will offer more detail on rugby matters in due course but for now, we are calling on clubs to focus on safety.
“Why? Because it’s the first step in bringing rugby back to our clubs. If our goal is to allow our community to resume the sport we love and benefit from the wellbeing that comes with it, we must start with safety.
“I am confident that our 217 clubs can deliver a strong rugby offering for their members while living with Covid-19.”