IRFU tells amateur players to walk before they run after lengthy layoff

The IRFU has implored amateur players and coaches to proceed gradually on their return to rugby in light of high injury rates experienced in other sports that have returned after months of inactivity.
IRFU tells amateur players to walk before they run after lengthy layoff
"Clubs will have to be extra cautious around the training loads they are putting in place," says IRFU medical director Rod McLoughlin. Photo: NPHO/Ryan Byrne
"Clubs will have to be extra cautious around the training loads they are putting in place," says IRFU medical director Rod McLoughlin. Photo: NPHO/Ryan Byrne

The IRFU has implored amateur players and coaches to proceed gradually on their return to rugby in light of high injury rates experienced in other sports that have returned after months of inactivity.

If much of the evidence is anecdotal then a report by Dr Joel Mason put more flesh on the bones with his finding that injury rates for the Bundesliga shot up from 0.27 per game to 0.88 in the German league's first weekend back for two months.

Soft-tissue injuries have been a particular issue.

"It has been over 100 days since any club player has been involved in competitive rugby and we have seen from other team sports that have returned earlier than rugby that there is an increased risk of injury,” said IRFU medical director Rod McLoughlin.

That means clubs will have to be extra cautious around the training loads they are putting in place. Player welfare still applies around injury prevention just as much as it does in terms of Covid-19.

McLoughlin also stressed that Covid-19 has not been eliminated from the island of Ireland and clubs have been reminded that they must complete the Covid-19 safety planning stage before resuming training at any level.

Clubs in the Republic of Ireland are free to resume non-contact rugby from July 1, once those safety boxes have been ticked. Contact rugby will resume as of July 20.

The situation in Northern Ireland should become clearer no later than early next week when the NI Executive updates its roadmap but, as things stand, the AIL and all other club competitions are free to kick off again in September.

"We are sticking to the plan we laid out for clubs in May,” said the IRFU's rugby development director Colin McEntee. “While a more defined timeline is now in place, clubs should only return when they are ready to do so.

“We have already seen a handful of clubs put a Covid-19 Club Health & Safety Plan in place and resume with reduced activities and we are delighted to see players being active again and reconnecting with their clubs.

“Given the restricted nature of these activities, we don’t see any clubs being left behind as we continue to work towards a return to competition in September. I encourage all clubs to plan for that time with the highest safety standards in mind.”

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