The IRFU is to begin Covid-19 testing for Munster and Leinster players and members of their support staff ahead of their planned return to training in Limerick and Dublin next Monday.
Their counterparts in Connacht and Ulster will undergo the same procedures prior to their scheduled returns to the training paddock a week later.
All four provinces will use PCR Testing which involves a swab test and a sample taken from the subject's nose or throat. This is then examined, according to a union statement, “at a molecular level using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to identify the presence of Covid-19”.
The turnaround time for test results is between two and four days. The system is the same as that used by the four League of Ireland clubs – Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Derry City, and Bohemians – who have already returned to training.
None of the four clubs have returned any positive cases to date.
Other organisations to have used the PCR system are the English Premier League, the English Football League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, NZ Rugby, and the National Rugby League in Australia.
"The PCR testing ahead of the return to the high performance centres is an important element of our return to training protocols. All players, coaches and support staff will be tested before being permitted to enter their respective HPCs,” said the IRFU's medical director Dr Rod McLoughlin.
All players, coaches and other staff involved are to receive Covid-19 education from the IRFU's medical staff, including that on the new protocols that have been put in place at each of the four provincial high-performance centres and at the IRFU's at the National Sports Campus.
“The IRFU is coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the Covid-19 protocols across our five designated high performance centres,” he added. “We will be working closely with the HPC Covid managers to support them in the roll-out of the protocols."