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Return To Rugby For Clubs

Return To Rugby For Clubs

IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs

Foreword – Colin McEntee, IRFU Director of Rugby Development

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, our priority has been keeping the Irish Rugby community safe.

This began on March 12th 2020 with the suspension and ultimate conclusion of the domestic rugby season. Our members have been through some tough times since. COVID-19 has affected many of us. Public health measures, while necessary have meant some sacrifices.

Then there was light at the end of the tunnel with the announcement of the Government of Ireland Roadmap To Reopen Society and Business and the Northern Ireland Executive’s Coronavirus Recovery Plan. We immediately put a team together to navigate a return to rugby for clubs in line with the easing of government restrictions.

The result is the IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs as outlined here. It has been directed by industry expertise throughout including our own IRFU Medical Director Rod McLoughlin and Safety Consultants EOBA.

The question remains when can we get our community back out onto a rugby pitch? The answer remains that this can only be done in line with government directive. The IRFU fully support this and will share any updates with our community as soon as appropriate.

In the meantime, we are asking clubs to put appropriate measures in place.

  • Appoint a COVID-19 Club Safety Officer & COVID-19 Club Compliance Officers
  • Avail of Training & Education Support
  • Complete a COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan (inc. Risk Assessment)

There is a COVID-19 Safety Plan for almost every walk of life at present. Every time a rugby club member walks into a shop, onto public transport or into their local park, there is a safety plan guiding their actions to minimise risk. We want the same to be true of their rugby club.

Our clubs are volunteer led organisations and the IRFU and our provinces will guide this process with training and education supports.

I also want to make it clear that clubs have a choice. Clubs should only begin their plans for a return to rugby when they are ready and resources are in place. Support structures will still be available for them at provincial and national level when they are ready.

We are in the COVID-19 Safety Planning stage of our return to rugby roadmap. We will offer more detail on rugby matters in due course but for now we are calling on clubs to focus on safety.

Why? Because it’s the first step in bringing rugby back to our clubs. If our goal is to allow our community resume the sport we love and benefit from the wellbeing that comes with it, we must start with safety.

I am confident that our 217 clubs can deliver a strong rugby offering for their members while living with COVID-19. It will be about educating ourselves and each other. It will be about committing to safety for each other’s sake. It will be about rewarding good behaviour and calling out behaviour that doesn’t keep us safe.

I look forward to working with you in bringing about a safe return to rugby in our clubs.

The Return to Rugby Guidelines outlined here are created to be implemented in response to COVID-19. The main objective is the safe return to rugby for all members and communities.

These recommendations have been based on the advice of both Governments, National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), Health Services Executive (HSE), National Health Service (NHS), World Health Organisation (WHO), and European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).

The IRFU also gained advice from other sporting bodies who are at varying stages of reopening their societies. It should be noted that this is a living document and will be revised periodically following updated advice from the above organisations.

Adult players, parents/guardians of underage players, spectators and other club members must make an informed individual decision regarding returning to rugby based on their age, their own medical history, and the medical history of those living in their household.

Published May 29th, 2020 / Updated June 25th

Clubs must complete the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage and confirm a COVID-19 Club Health & Safety Plan with their province to resume any rugby.

Clubs may only resume training and rugby activities in accordance with government protocols.

These protocols are being considered on an ongoing basis at government level and the IRFU will communicate any update with clubs through the COVID-19 Provincial Leads.

IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines will be superseded at all times by:

  • Government of Ireland’s Roadmap To Reopen Society & Business
  • Northern Ireland Executive’s Coronavirus Recovery Plan
  • Government of Ireland’s Return To Sport Expert Group & Sport Northern Ireland Framework for Return to Sport

The IRFU will provide an update on schools and third-level institutions in due course.

This will be informed by the Government of Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills and the Northern Ireland Executive’s Department of Education.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus2 (SARS-CoV-2). Most people (8/10) infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • Cough
  • Breathing Difficulty
  • Fever/High Temperature
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Rash
  • Loss of smell/taste

Detailed general information on coronavirus is outlined in Appendix 1- Coronavirus

What can I do as a player?

Players have a responsibility to act in a safe and responsible manner while at the grounds. All players/participants should be advised to:

  • Make themselves aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and monitor their own wellbeing
  • Participate in club induction, and any training provided by the COVID-19 Club Safety Officer
  • Read and follow the club’s COVID-19 Club Health and Safety plan
  • Practice a high level of personal hygiene
  • Keep a contact log of direct contact with other people
  • Complete Pre-Return to Rugby Personal Assessment Declaration prior to every training session and give to COVID-19 Club Compliance Officer

A Pre-Return To Rugby Personal Assessment Declaration is available in Appendix 2 – Personal Assessment Declaration

Detailed Guidelines for Players and Participants are outlined in Appendix 3 – Player Guidelines

What can I do as a coach?

Coaches have a responsibility to ensure that training activities and club operations do not cause unnecessary risks to players and the wider community. In addition to their responsibilities as an individual, they shall achieve this through:

  • Liaising with the nominated COVID-19 Club Compliance Officers
  • Participating in COVID-19 training as required
  • Planning training activities to align with those permitted at any given time
  • Educating teams and reinforce good personal hygiene and etiquette

Detailed Guidelines for Coaches are outlined in Appendix 4 – Guidelines For Coaches

What can I do as a parent/guardian?

Parents and guardians play an important role in the process of returning to rugby.
They will be critical in communicating and monitoring behaviours in our younger players.

  • Please see guideline documents should you have any queries regarding children returning to training
  • The COVID-19 Club Compliance Officers and the club will support them through this process
  • IRFU/provincial branches will support clubs both nationally and provincially to achieve this

Detailed Guidelines for Parent and Guardians are outlined in Appendix 5 Guidelines For Parents & Guardians

What can I do if I’m planning on running an event?

Clubs are reminded that events are only permitted in line with all government restrictions and protocols.

Detailed Guidelines for Adult Based Events are outlined in Appendix 6 – Adult Event Guidelines

Detailed Guidelines for Children And Youth Based Events are outlined in Appendix 7 – Child Event Guidelines

Additional Guidelines for Clubs are outlined in Appendix 8 – Club Guidelines

Additional Guidelines for COVID-19 Club Safety Officer are outlined in Appendix 9 – Safety Officer Guidelines

Please note Guidelines For Referees will be issued in due course.

COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage

COVID-19 Safety Planning forms the first and most important stage of the IRFU’s Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs.

Its objective is to ensure safety measures are taken before activities can resume in rugby clubs.

It recommends that clubs take the following measures:

  • Appoint a COVID-19 Club Safety Officer and COVID-19 Club Compliance Officers
  • Avail of Training & Education Support
  • Complete COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan (inc. Risk Assessment)
  • Have a COVID-19 Safety Plan

Clubs must complete the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage and confirm a COVID-19 Club Health & Safety Plan with their province to resume any rugby.

Detailed Guidelines on The COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage are outlined in Appendix 10 – Safety Planning Stage

Recommended Roles & Responsibilities For COVID-19 Club Safety Officers are outlined in Appendix 11 – Safety Officer Role

Recommended Roles & Responsibilities For COVID-19 Club Compliance Officers are outlined in Appendix 12 – Compliance Officer Role

A COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan Template (inc. Risk Assessment) is included as Appendix 13 – Health & Safety Plan Template

COVID-19 Health & Safety Operating Procedures For Clubs is included as Appendix 14 – Operating Procedures

Reduced Activity, Non-Contact, Contact Stages

All on-pitch elements of a return to rugby for clubs will be guided by the Government of Ireland’s Return To Sport Expert Group as well as Sport Northern Ireland Framework for Return to Sport.

Irish Rugby is working towards a graduated return to rugby for clubs. It proposes commencing with reduced activities and closed skills before progressing to non-contact versions of the game.

The IRFU summary roadmap offers an outline of this graduated return, but this does not mean it is directly aligned to the phases and steps of easing restrictions at government level.

Contact rugby is categorised as a ‘close physical contact’ sport and is currently not permitted to resume until Step 5 (Northern Ireland Executive) and Phase 4 (Government of Ireland) of government protocols.

What can Clubs do in the Non-Contact Stage? (From Wednesday 1st July, 2020)

From Wednesday 1st July: Clubs who have completed the COVID-19 Safety Planning Phase of their return to rugby may enter the Non-Contact Rugby Stage of the roadmap.

A ‘No plan, no play’ policy remains strictly in place. Clubs must confirm with their province that COVID-19 Club Health & Safety Plan has been completed before they can resume any rugby activity.

This stage will allow for skill development and include a provision for tag rugby and touch rugby.

Numbers Ratio Players to Coach:                 

  • Under U12: 16 players to 2 coaches
  • Above U12-U18: 20 players 2 coaches
  • Above U18: 15 players to 2 coaches

Session Duration:

  • 60 mins max

Content:

  • Non-contact skills-based activities
  • Non-contact game forms (Touch & Tag)
  • 7 v 7 on ½ pitch

Strict social distancing of 2 metres, the continued completion of Pre-Rugby Personal Assessment Declarations and safe behaviours including hand hygiene, cough etiquette must be adhered to at all times throughout this stage.

What can Clubs do in the Contact Stage? (From Monday 20th July)

From Monday July 20th: Clubs who have completed the COVID-19 Safety Planning Phase of their return to rugby may enter the Contact Rugby Stage of the roadmap.

This stage is a graduated return to contact. While continuing with skill-based activities, no scrummaging or mauling will be permitted in the early part of this stage. It will build with controlled contact development towards a defined contact training block to ensure games may commence in early September.

Numbers Ratio Players to Coach:                 

  • Under U12: 16 players to 2 coaches
  • Above U12-U18: 20 players 1 coaches
  • Above U18: 15 players to 2 coaches

Session Duration:

  • 70 mins max

BUILDING FOUNDATIONS PHASE

Content: w/c 20th July – 1st August

  • Skills based activities
  • Unopposed set piece and team
  • Fitness
  • NO SCRUMMAGING OR MAULING IN THE FIRST WEEKS

BEGINNING OF CONTACT PREP PHASE

Content: from 1st August onwards

  • Controlled contact development: Build-up use of pads and shields to progress.  Work in grids or drills of 2 to 3 participants progressing from walking, jogging to running.
  • Control contact development. Working in small numbers on 1 to 1 contact scenarios with controlled gradual progression, examples;
    • Open play: 1v1tackle, 2v1 ruck, 3v2 defence etc.
    • Scrum: 1v1, 2v2, 3v machine, 3v3, 5v machine, 5v5 8v machine, 8v8, etc.
    • Lineout: unopposed working from 3 players progress to 7 and then add opposition etc (limit the amount of time mauling).
  • Building contact: Impact with bump, targeting contact entry points only
  • Contact limited numbers and time.
    • Unit Forward (8 players)
    • Unit backs (7 players)
    • Phase play (varied eg 6v4, 7v5, 10v5, 10v8, 7v7, 15v5 etc.)
  • Contact gradual progression to reflect the reality of the game and duration of session. Therefore, you may build in a 10 to 15min hit out for the session.
  • Possibly friendly – warm-up 29th, 30th of August.
  • Initial fixtures September 5th 6th (In cooperation with National and Provincial competition committees)

Training and Education on COVID-19 Safety Planning is available to all clubs as they complete their return to rugby in 2020.

The COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage is the first and most important stage the IRFU’s Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs.

Its objective is to ensure safety measures are taken before activities can resume in rugby clubs.

In order to resume any rugby activity, clubs must complete the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage and confirm a COVID-19 Club Health & Safety Plan with their province.

COVID-19 Training & Education Resources For Clubs:

 

  1. IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs:

The IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs themselves are a comprehensive tool for clubs completing the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage of their return to rugby. 

As well as an overview of the process, they offer general information on coronavirus as well as specific guidelines For players, coaches, parents/guardians & events.

In order to complete the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage, clubs must complete a COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan, including a risk assessment. There are two key resources within the guidelines to help with this process.

  • COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan Template
  • COVID-19 Health & Safety Operating Procedures

The COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan Template provides a step by step process for clubs to complete their plan.

It offers clubs complete control in the measures they want to set out while ensuring that all areas are addressed. It has been prepared by industry experts currently specialising in the field of coronavirus risk management.

The COVID-19 Health & Safety Operating Procedures are a companion document to the template and provide examples of best practise in risk management for clubs to use in their planning.

Appointed COVID-19 Club Safety Officers have a wide variety of backgrounds when it comes to health & safety experience. These operating procedures are ideal for officers who may have less expertise, but still needed to be guided by best practise in their approach.

The best advice for clubs is to familiarise themselves with these documents as much as possible for availing of further support.

in a club focused way and give COVID-19 Club Safety Officers with a wide variety of expertise some of the tools they need to

It also includes a number of key documents which will form part of the plan including a risk assessment and necessary declaration forms for members.

 

  1. Guidelines For COVID-19 Club Safety Officers and COVID Club Compliance Officers.

Roles, Responsibilities and Guidelines are available for all appointed officers.

All COVID-19 Club Safety Officers must register with their respective COVID-19 Provincial Lead. This will enable them to receive further support for themselves and their club in COVID-19 Safety Planning.

 

  1. IRFU Training & Education Webinar

All COVID-19 Club Safety Officers have access to an IRFU Training & Education Webinar.

The purpose of the webinar is to give officers access to experts in the fields of health & safety, law, medicine and rugby ahead of putting COVID-19 safety measures into practice in their club.

Presentations Include:

  • IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines Overview, IRFU COVID-19 Project Team
  • Insurance & Liability Overview, IRFU Legal Counsel Sean Brassil
  • From The Pitch Out – Making Behaviour Safe In Clubs, IRFU Medical Director Rod McLoughlin
  • Best Practise For Safety Planning In Clubs, Eamon O’Boyle and Associates

Experts also address questions submitted directly from clubs.

This Webinar took place on June 9th but is available to all appointed officers.

 

  1. Case Studies:

A series of case studies are being prepared to walk clubs through the required steps of completing the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage. These case studies will be a mix of both expert led and peer-to-peer learning tools.

They will be in both video and written Q&A form and will be available to all clubs.

The first in this series will be:

A Step By Step Guide To Completing a COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan For Rugby Clubs.

Further case studies will be announced in due course.

 

  1. COVID-19 Provincial Support

Each COVID-19 Club Safety Officer will have direct access to dedicated support within their province.

Each COVID-19 Club Safety Officer must register with their COVID-19 Provincial Leads as soon as they are appointed in order to avail of support.

Clubs must also confirm to their COVID-19 Provincial Lead that they have completed the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage before they are permitted to resume any rugby activity.

COVID-19 Provincial Leads also provide dedicated email support for any questions an officer may have throughout the process. Answers to a range of frequently asked questions are readily available with further access available to additional industry expertise where necessary.

 

  1. Sport Ireland

Sport Ireland are also  providing a number of training & support resources to the sector in relation to Covid19.

They will making an online version of their “COVID-19 Compliance Officer Training” available to clubs.

Published June 5th 2020/Updated June 11th 2020

The purpose of the COVID-19 Health & Safety Operating Procedures For Clubs is to assist in the completion of the clubs’ own COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan.

Clubs are asked to consider the following areas in completion of their COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan.

  • Preparation for Resumption
  • Cleaning to Prevent Contamination
  • Training & Communication
  • Physical Distancing Measures
  • Catering and Refreshment arrangements
  • Actions for Suspected Cases
  • Use of PPE
  • Preparation for Training
  • Traveling to Training
  • Use of Facilities
  • Conflict Resolution and Non Compliance Actions
  • First Aid
  • Club Health and Safety

A COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan Template (inc. Risk Assessment) is included as Appendix 13 – Health & Safety Plan Template

COVID-19 Health & Safety Operating Procedures For Clubs are outlined in full as Appendix 14 – Operating Procedures

The advice and guidance in IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs lessens the potential of an insurance claim related to possible COVID-19 infection.

It is of paramount importance, as outlined in the Guidelines, that clubs understand and implement all health advise provided by the Government of Ireland (ROI clubs) or the Northern Ireland Executive (NI clubs).

Clubs are reminded that a number of existing roles within their club require similar mitigation to COVID-19 Club Safety Officer and Compliance Officers e.g. Club Welfare Officer.

The IRFU advises anyone with a concern in relation to their potential liability to discuss the matter with their Club Secretary, who can examine the Club Constitution to identify if specific indemnities are provided to them.

The IRFU reminds clubs to ensure that they have appropriate Public Liability Insurance in place before any return to rugby activity.

Taking the right steps is essential – clubs must recognise that insurers may try to refuse to pay any claim, or cancel, terminate or avoid club insurance, if a club fails to deliver appropriate health and safety guidelines.

Published June 5th 2020 / Updated June 11th 2020

If you need any further information on behalf of your club, please email your provincial support:

Connacht Rugby: fraser.gow@connachtrugby.ie

Leinster Rugby: carol.maybury@leinsterrugby.ie

Munster Rugby: aidancleary@munsterrugby.ie

Ulster Rugby: clubsupport@ulsterrugby.com

For the latest information on COVID-19 go to:

https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19