The Welsh Rugby Union has welcomed the latest Welsh Government announcement that rugby activity for adults can resume from Monday 26 April, providing public health conditions continue to be favourable.
Community rugby activities resumed for Under 18s on March 27 and now, following the latest easing of lockdown restrictions, adults around Wales will be able to return to organised training sessions (groups of up to 30), if clubs feel they can provide a safe environment for all concerned and ensure all the necessary protocols are respected.
While under 18s can now play tag and touch matches against other clubs, in line with the Welsh Rugby Union’s Pathway to Participation, adults will return to the same stage of the Return to Rugby plan as just before and after the Firebreak lockdown in the autumn. As before, the priority will be on skills and fitness-based activities with touch rugby introduced towards the end of the sessions. Providing the public health conditions remain favourable, players at all levels of the community game in Wales will be able to start to re-introduce a level of contact training from May 1.
Clubs are reminded of the protocols that all players, coaches and volunteers must adhere to prior to attending training sessions, during the sessions themselves and afterwards. These 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. In the event of any positive cases of COVID within clubs, Public Health Wales’ self-isolation policy for close contacts must be followed.
WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “We welcome this decision by Welsh Government. Community rugby is part of our culture and this move will greatly help the physical and mental well-being of everyone involved in rugby. We have seen good numbers of under 18s return to training following the publication of our Pathway to Participation and we know there is a strong desire from over 18s to return to our rugby clubs. We want everyone to come back to the game safely and for the long-term. That means asking coaches, players and volunteers to stick to the sustainable measures club volunteers have worked so hard to achieve over the past year to ensure club environments are as safe as possible. We will be communicating to our Club Operations Managers and providing support to coaches before the start of the next phase of our Pathway to Participation – the gradual return to contact rugby.”
WRU Operations Director Julie Paterson added, “Today’s announcement has moved all sports forward which is great for Wales and takes us forward with our plan to return to rugby. We are grateful to our colleagues in the National Sports Group for their collaborative support over the past year and we look forward to moving through the next steps of our Pathway to Participation over the coming months. Our chances of achieving this goal are greatly enhanced by our club volunteer network who continue to work tirelessly to put our protocols firmly front and centre in order to get community rugby back safely while protecting our clubs, participants and the wider communities.”