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IRFU release plan for return to play

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Colin McEntee

Colin McEntee

SPORTSFILE

Colin McEntee

The IRFU has published a summary roadmap for a return to rugby for clubs across the country, which includes several recommendations in a bid to ensure precautionary safety measures are adhered to.

As talks of the country's lockdown restrictions being eased in the coming weeks continue to grow, rugby is gearing up for a return, as the IRFU revealed that it is now in the Covid-19 safety planning stage of the roadmap.

The next three stages read: reduced activities stage, non-contact stage and contact stage.

A central part of those plans are the recommended appointment of a Covid-19 club safety officer to oversee public health measures within the club.

Covid-19 club compliance officers will be asked to monitor day-to-day compliance with protocols across all teams.

Clubs have been reminded that they may only resume training and rugby activities in accordance with Government guidelines, which as things stand will be during stage 5, on August 10.

There were 217 clubs active in the 2019/2020 season, which was concluded with immediate effect in March after the pandemic wreaked havoc in Ireland.

Every club will be issued return to rugby guidelines this coming Friday on the back of honorary sectaries receiving the summary roadmap last Friday.

The four professional provinces are already gearing towards an August 22 return, and this latest update from the IRFU will come as a boost to clubs, who have been decimated financially since Covid-19 hit.

"Like everyone else, our community has been following the updates to Government roadmaps and recovery plans and asking when clubs can reopen," IRFU director of rugby development Colin McEntee said.

"That's from junior clubs right up to our men's and women's clubs in the Energia All-Ireland League.

"The fact remains we can only resume activity in line with the easing of Government restrictions, but there is also a lot we can do to ensure the right practices are in place.

"Many clubs are already looking at revised operating procedures. This plan is about helping all clubs move forward as one in providing health and wellbeing opportunities for their community.

"I'm hopeful our clubs can rise to the challenge. The support will be there for them at both national and provincial level.

"From there, we can look at a graduated return to rugby."