WRU buoyed by appetite seen throughout community rugby
The WRU is buoyed by the appetite seen throughout community rugby to complete the required education and club safety processes in order to resume training within the current guidelines.
Registration numbers are high – within a week of the WRU online registration process opening on August 1, more than 25 000 players, coaches and other volunteers had completed the World Rugby covid education course and WRU online registration. That number has since risen to 33,000.
Many clubs and Female Hubs all over Wales have now begun organised training for some or all of their teams with many quick to praise their coaches, volunteers players and parents who have ensured this process has run smoothly. Others are planning their phased return.
WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “It is uplifting to see players, especially youngsters, out enjoying being part of their rugby team again. We’ve all missed the game itself, and the physical, mental and social benefits we all cherish. It’s important for us to adhere to government guidelines to help keep Wales safe, and with player welfare key, we’ve also taken a safety-first approach to the re-introduction of contact rugby at all levels.
“We are truly thankful for the commitment shown by all involved in the game to go through the education and safety processes we’ve put in place to support the community game and heartened by the pure desire we’re seeing to get back out on the pitch and throw a ball around with team mates.”
Caerphilly chairman Gareth Ashman said, “We have teams training every evening – either seniors and youth, minis and juniors or the Chargers Female Hub who are a welcome new addition to the club. “The return of club activity is a saving grace after not only lockdown but the floods before that. We have turned the car park into a beer garden and the weather has helped in generating some much needed income. Not only that but we are a community, a rugby family and everyone is so pleased to see their team mates, fellow coaches, other parents etc within the social distancing rules.”
Caerphilly have also found a time and energy-efficient way to stay on top of the track and trace process.
“For a nominal amount, we pay a monthly fee for a club-specific QR code. Everyone who comes to the ground – either for training or social purposes – uses their smart phone to log themselves in so that if there were to be a case of Covid, the company who holds all the contact info would then notify the public health authorities who would contact us and the relevant individuals to put in place the necessary measures. The whole process is GDPR compliant and contact details are destroyed within three months.”
Wrexham secretary Becky Pomeray said, “We are so grateful for the hard work put in by coaches and our other volunteers to help get our teams back on the pitch.
“Following the first WRU-led webinars, we held our own zoom meetings to take coaches especially through all guidance and we set up a dedicated email address to keep control of the paperwork coming in. With the requirement for Covid training for all and WRU registration, we put in place a contract for players and parents of players to ensure they understood the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. This is now a requirement before any player comes to training along with the World Rugby course and the WRU symptom checker.
“We have small groups, stringent cleaning processes and regular hand sanitising during training. One coach got his players to line up with a cone each and got each player to put their drink at their own cone station. We thought that was a great idea so we’ve adopted it in our other groups.
“I think about 95% of our players have returned. It’s been brilliant so far really. Everyone has bought into it and parents have welcomed our approach.
“It’s a public health issue. We turn people away if they haven’t gone through the proper checks. If we get it right now, we can get back to playing matches quicker so it’s in our interest to get it right the first time.”
Bridgend Sports’ Steve Pillner added, “Most of our teams have returned this week with the Hawks Female Hub back with us next Monday.”It’s still early days and we’ve all got a long way to go in this battle against Covid so it’s much better to take it slowly and get everything right. We don’t know what’s around the corner. The current phase is also a great chance to develop ball skills at all levels, the contact side of the game can come later.
“However, the game is a community too. It’s important to keep in touch and everyone is pleased to see each other to keep that community alive.”