The Welsh Rugby Union has announced measures to further progress the phased return of community rugby in Wales - while still taking a safety-first approach to the resumption of the grassroots game.
In line with Welsh Government guidance, the governing body has now sanctioned the inclusion of touch rugby activities as part of fitness and skills-based training sessions at all levels of the game in Wales. This is in addition to the tag and touch rugby already sanctioned for under 7s to under 11s.
However, in order to continue to be part of the solution of the covid crisis, and with player welfare front of mind, all other measures remain in force at this time.
- Training should take place in small groups (max 10-15 )
- Social distancing still applies to all other parts of training sessions and gatherings (there should be no huddles, close team talks or traditional team photos)
- Balls and cones are the only equipment currently permitted
- This is not a contact phase of rugby, there should be no tackling, wrestling, rucking, mauling, line-outs or scrums
- In-house activities only. No matches are to take place against other clubs, hubs or schools
- All education and pre-training protocols in place must still be adhered to before attending any training sessions. This includes the World Rugby Covid awareness course and WRU online registration before the FIRST training session and the WRU Gamelocker symptom checker before EACH training session.
WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “We are pleased to be able to confirm that touch rugby can now be included as part of the fitness and skills-based training sessions currently sanctioned. This will be a welcome addition to rugby activity at all levels but is very much a continuation of our phased return to community rugby.”
WRU Operations Director Julie Paterson said, “It’s vital that we stay vigilant to the safety measures put in place for training sessions and adhere to the pre and post-training protocols in order to safeguard our communities and to hopefully ensure that rugby is back for good.”
A webinar was held for all Club Operations Managers on Wednesday and a guide will be published on the WRU Game Locker to support coaches at this time.
John added, “Coaches are encouraged to introduce a touch rugby element towards the end of their structured training sessions and to stick to the hygiene measures in place – to sanitise hands and balls every 20 minutes and especially before and after engaging in touch-based activities. This isn’t the green light to exclusively play touch rugby throughout the training session.”
The governing body is working with the Welsh Government in order to move to the next phase of community rugby's return but given the easing of restrictions that would need to take place regarding social distancing, and the fact that the community game will be given at least six weeks of contact rugby training before the recommencement of any competitive, contact rugby for player welfare reasons, it is now highly unlikely that community rugby competitions will resume in October.
Paterson added: “We know there is a huge appetite to get back to contact and competitive rugby, but we must continue with our phased approach, taking each step at a time. We have committed to giving the community game at least six weeks to prepare for the resumption of any kind of competitive, contact rugby with our players' welfare our primary focus. We will continue to work towards the next phases in conjunction with the Welsh Government."