The Welsh Rugby Union has urged Welsh community rugby to take at least six weeks to return to full contact training safely after more than 13 months without the contact element of the game.
Teams at all levels of the community game in Wales can begin to gradually introduce some contact elements of the game into training sessions from Saturday 1 May, in line with the WRU’s Pathway to Participation (click here). Matches both internally within clubs and externally against other clubs must be non-contact at this stage – tag and touch only. Clubs may now cross District boundaries for matches but must stay within Wales.
This latest phase of the Union’s return to rugby plan is set to lead into the introduction of contact matches at 7 and 10 a side from mid-June before sanctioning some modified 15 a side rugby from August.
Extensive support and suggested session plans will be available to coaches and other volunteers on the WRU Gamelocker and a webinar has been held with more than 300 Club Operations Managers around Wales.
WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “Safety is our absolute priority during this next phase of our Pathway to Participation. With no player within the community game having taken part in any contact rugby for more than 13 months, player welfare is at the heart of this framework. “Contact is just one of rugby’s core skills that need to be up to speed technically before proceeding to the next phase of our Pathway to Participation. In terms of the contact areas of our game, we are principally looking at the tackle area in this phase – there should be strictly no scrums, line-outs or mauls due to the obvious safety risks due to COVID-19. There will be ample time to look at these areas in the next phases. “Welsh rugby is thrilled to be back training and clubs are pleased to welcome players, coaches and volunteers back to grounds and the wider community to club beer gardens within Welsh Government guidelines. We all want to enjoy being back with our friends and team mates but we must keep our rugby values at the forefront as we progress with our plan.”
WRU Operations Director Julie Paterson added, “After such a difficult year for everyone, it is pleasing to be able to move through the steps of our Pathway to Participation safely for the physical and mental well-being of our rugby family. In order to remain on course with bringing more elements of the game back, we urge everyone within the game to remain vigilant, stick to the rugby framework and Welsh Government COVID guidelines.”