SA Rugby says professional teams could train under Level 3 of lockdown

SA Rugby is slowly easing back into the competitive game. At the same time the President of World Rugby Bill Beaumont said rugby could only return “with confidence” when a vaccine is in place. World Rugby’s executive committee has approved 10 optional law trials which minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus through player contact. The trials are designed to reduce contact in rucks, scrums and mauls by between 25% and 50%. Critics of the proposals say they take away the essence of Rugby Union and reduce the game to Rugby League. The law trials aren’t mandatory as World Rugby said it recognises member nations have different plans to deal with the pandemic. New Zealand, where the spread of the virus appears to have been curtailed, will resume full physical contact rugby within a few weeks. World Rugby has also shot down a proposal by England’s Rugby Football Union to stage a 16-team invitational tournament along the lines of the 2015 Rugby World Cup next year to generate money for the game. The RFU said it could raise 250 million pounds through the event. But that would mean postponing next year’s British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa by a year, and World Rugby tersely said it “does not intend to pursue such a proposal”. – David O’Sullivan

From SA Rugby

SA Rugby has welcomed an announcement that professional sports teams could begin the process of returning to training under Level 3 lockdown easing.

Mr Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture, made the announcement at a briefing on Saturday as he reported on the Department’s COVID-19 sector relief fund.

Mr Mthethwa said sports teams had 14 days to submit proposals to the Department on how they would ensure the safety of the players and officials.

He also announced that non-contact sports could return to play, if they observed all the necessary regulations.

“This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return-to-play,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.

“We submitted a comprehensive, staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately.

“We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training.

“But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play.”

SA Rugby announced the suspension of all rugby on 18 March.

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