13 May 2020

Club rugby plan revealed

5:00 pm on 13 May 2020

A return date for club rugby in New Zealand has been pencilled in by the national body.

Waipu Rugby Club.

Waipu Rugby Club. Photo: RNZ / Joanna Mackenzie

Following confirmation from Sport NZ the 10-person gathering limit does apply to community sport, New Zealand Rugby have released a three-stage plan for the resumption of the grassroots game.

The approach included a preparation to train phase from May 14 to 25, a four-week training phase and finally the resumption of competitions from June 20.

NZR head of participation Steve Lancaster said they would take a measured approach to ensure clubs were clear about the stringent health and safety protocols required to enable players, coaches and referees to lace up their boots for 2020.

"I know our rugby community is very keen to be back out on the grass, but we're being very cautious. We must get it right, and get it right the first time. The health and safety of our community is paramount.

"We're hopeful the 10-person per gathering rule will be increased on 25 May, and when it is, organised training can begin. In the meantime, we encourage participants to register for rugby and start preparing to return to training and playing."

The plan stated no organised training or match activity could take place before May 25 and that pre-season matches would likely be possible in the final week prior to competitions restarting.

Lancaster said the prepare to play period was mandatory to allows provincial unions, clubs and schools time to establish safety plans in order to meet the required public health measures.

"New Zealand has done an incredible job of staying home to stamp out COVID-19 and the rugby community has greeted the news of the return of rugby with excitement.

"We are now asking for patience. As keen as we are to return to play, we all need to take the time to do the work to ensure we are ready for kick off. We're asking everyone to be aware of their obligations and take responsibility for themselves."

Lancaster said the phased approach would also apply to secondary school rugby and schools were also required to work within Government guidelines for the education sector.

NZR's comprehensive guidelines for all levels of rugby (excluding the domestic Super Rugby competition) would be released on Thursday.