School and club rugby set to resume this month

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has said the return to the fields must be strictly in line with Covid-19 regulations.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has said the return to the fields must be strictly in line with Covid-19 regulations.

Rugby will take a significant leap towards normality following SA Rugby's announcement on Thursday that school and club rugby can resume this month.

It has been a year since the sport has had to close the gates to club and school fields after the Covid-19 pandemic spread its tentacles around the country.

SA Rugby said in a statement “while club teams received the go-ahead to return to play on Monday‚ 12 April‚ schools rugby will be able to resume with matches a little later‚ on Friday‚ 23 April.”

It said the decision was made following an announcement by the department of basic education that it had made an Amendment of Directions in terms of Regulation 4(3) under the Disaster Management Act.

“In accordance with SA Rugby’s return to play protocols‚ which places player safety and welfare as key priorities‚ clubs have received the green light to advance from contact training back to playing matches‚” the statement read.

But the clubs and schools will still have to take due care and closely follow all the necessary precautions.

SA Rugby said the permission to play is based on the provision that all Covid-19 protocols are strictly adhered to‚ and every club player must have completed the compulsory four-week non-contact training and four-week contact training window.

Schools rugby players‚ meanwhile‚ may resume contact training in four weeks – following six weeks of non-contact training – with the vision that they return to play at the earliest on Friday‚ 23 April.

“We were delighted to receive the news that schools rugby can recommence as announced by the Department of Basic Education‚ and we share in the schools and club players’ excitement to return to the field‚” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.

“However‚ we will not take any risks.

"Player safety is of utmost importance to us‚ and as the custodians of rugby in South Africa it is imperative that the return to play protocols that were followed by our professional teams be applied at schools and club level as well.

“These protocols were designed based on medical evidence with the purpose of ensuring that the players’ bodies are ready to cope with the impact of full contact and to keep injuries to a minimum.

“It would be remiss of us to allow the excitement of returning to play overshadow player safety.

"Any schools and clubs that defy these protocols will do so at their own risk.

“The fact that these players have missed out on a year of their rugby development‚ with some of them having missed the crucial Under-16 age group‚ which will see them being thrust into the Under-18 and Under-19 age group‚ makes it critical that every precaution is taken to ease their transition back into rugby.”

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