The IRFU has published a summary roadmap for a return to rugby in clubs. It is the first of the major field sports to do so and has split the return into four phases but without putting any dates to them as yet.

In the first phase which is current, clubs are being asked to focus on COVID-19 safety planning. This will include the appointment of a COVID-19 Club Safety Officer to oversee public health measures in the club.

Appointed COVID-19 Club Compliance Officers will be asked to monitor day-to-day compliance with protocols across all teams.

Clubs will be guided through the process of completing a COVID-19 Club Risk Assessment and a COVID-19 Club Safety Plan to outline safety measures and minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Names of potential Safety and Compliance officers have been requested to be submitted this week.  This will push the boundaries of what clubs want from a theoretical ‘get the pitches open’ call to a very specific one of personal responsibility.

Templates for these documents will be issued to clubs as part of IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines that will be issued to all clubs this Friday, June 5th.

A range of training and education supports will be made available to assist and guide clubs through these early stages.

The summary roadmap which was circulated to clubs at the weekend and formally revealed yesterday suggests that there will be three further stages of Reduced Activity, Non-Contact and finally Contact rugby, with the last of these graduated.

All will be in line with HSE and Government guidelines and it is likely that the plan will be submitted to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Expert Group this week.

Non-contact training and non-contact games will be permitted in the penultimate phase but there is no guidance yet on how these will look.

Speaking about the plan, IRFU Director of Rugby Development Colin McEntee said:

“Like everyone else, our community has been following the updates to government roadmaps and recovery plans and asking when clubs can reopen,” said IRFU Director of Rugby Development Colin McEntee.

“That’s from junior clubs right up to our men’s and women’s clubs in the Energia All-Ireland League.”

“The fact remains we can only resume activity in line with the easing of government restrictions, but there is also a lot we can do to ensure the right practices are in place.”

“Many clubs are already looking at revised operating procedures. This plan is about helping all clubs move forward as one in providing health and wellbeing opportunities for their community.”

“I’m hopeful our clubs can rise to the challenge. The support will be there for them at both national and provincial level.”

“From there, we can look at a graduated return to rugby with a focus on reduced activities and non-contact forms of the game along the way.”

There were 217 clubs active in the 2019/20 season.

Guidelines for rugby in schools and third-level institutions will be issued in due course.

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