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Community Rugby activity post lockdown

Community rugby teams have been given the green light to resume rugby activities within the current guidelines as Wales comes out of lockdown today – Monday 9th November – and urged to employ best practice protocols to ensure the community game is safe and sustainable in the long-term.

After working with Welsh Government and other partners and receiving the full Welsh Government guidance around the return of community sport following the Firebreak lockdown, the Welsh Rugby Union consulted with more than 200 Club Operations Managers and other volunteers, confirming that all levels of community rugby can restart at a similar stage in the return to rugby plan as prior to the Firebreak lockdown.

As before, skills and fitness-based sessions can finish with tag and touch activities for all levels of the game in Wales.

Although Welsh Government guidelines state that groups of up to 30 can now train together, clubs have been strongly urged to split into smaller groups for training purposes for safety reasons.

And while Welsh Government guidelines state that outdoor group activities for children under 11 may exceed that number, rugby clubs have been asked to continue to train in smaller groups where possible, especially for the tag and touch element of sessions.

Clubs were also reminded of the protocols that all players, coaches and parents must adhere to prior to attending training sessions, during the sessions themselves and afterwards, and they were given additional support on what to do in the event of any positive cases of COVID within their club, clarifying Public Health Wales’ self-isolation policy for close contacts. These protocols include all players, volunteers and parents of junior players completing the symptom checker on the WRU Gamelocker prior to every training sessions, strict hygiene measures and regular sanitisation breaks during training, staggered training times where possible to limit congestion before and after training and leaving the training ground swiftly afterwards without using changing rooms or other facilities.

WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “We want everyone to come back to the game safely and for the long-term. That means asking coaches, players and their parents to stick to the sustainable measures club volunteers have worked so hard to achieve to ensure club environments are as safe as possible.

“We recognise that our protocols are well within the parameters allowed by Welsh Government guidelines, particularly for under 11s, but we know it is safer to train within smaller groups and to train regularly within those groups wherever possible rather than widening the groups or mixing them. We want to do what we feel we should do to help the situation and not what could be done within the rules.”

WRU Operations Director Julie Paterson added, “We are working closely with Welsh Government and other partner bodies to continue with our Return to Community Rugby plan and bring rugby back safely and progressively. We will have a greater chance of moving our return to rugby plan forward over the coming weeks if our community protocols which set out to protect our clubs, participants and the wider community are safe and sustainable.”