Return of rugby for under 18s Liz Jones The Welsh Rugby Union has welcomed the news that rugby activity for children and young people under the age of 18 (aged 17 and under in line with Welsh Government guidelines) can resume from Saturday 27 March, providing public health conditions remain favourable.
After working closely with Welsh Government and other partners within the National Sports Group, the WRU has already held an online meeting with Club Operations Managers from its 300+ clubs and other teams to begin to put plans in place for the gradual return of community rugby. Following today’s announcement, volunteers, players and parents can now plan to return to club-organised training sessions from March 27, if clubs feel they can provide a safe environment for all concerned and put all the necessary protocols in place following the latest lockdown period. From March 27, training sessions for under 18s will be at the same stage of the Return to Rugby plan as just before and after the Firebreak lockdown in the autumn. As before, the priority will be on skills and fitness-based activities with tag and touch rugby introduced towards the end of the sessions. The exact details around the size of the groups permitted to train during this period will be in line with Welsh Government guidelines which will be clarified in due course. However, wherever possible, teams are urged to train in small groups for safety reasons, especially for the tag and touch element of sessions. Clubs are reminded of the protocols that all players, coaches and parents must adhere to prior to attending training sessions, during the sessions themselves and afterwards. These include all players, volunteers and parents of junior players completing the symptom checker on the WRU Gamelocker prior to every training sessions, strict hygiene measures and regular sanitisation breaks during training, staggered training times where possible to limit congestion before and after training and leaving the training ground swiftly afterwards without using changing rooms or other facilities. In the event of any positive cases of COVID within clubs, Public Health Wales’ self-isolation policy for close contacts must be followed. WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “We welcome this decision by Welsh Government. We know there is a strong desire to return to community rugby, especially for the physical and mental health and well-being of our younger players. We want everyone to come back to the game safely and for the long-term. That means asking coaches, players and their parents to stick to the sustainable measures club volunteers have worked so hard to achieve over the past year to ensure club environments are as safe as possible. “Until March 27 for young people under 18, and after this date for the time being for players over 18, we urge everyone to stay safe and exercise within Welsh Government guidelines.” WRU Operations Director Julie Paterson added, “Today’s announcement has moved us forward with our plan to return to rugby. We will continue to actively work with our colleagues in the National Sports Group to bring more elements of rugby back safely and progressively over the coming months. Our chances of achieving this goal are greatly enhanced by our club volunteer network who will no doubt get to work over the coming weeks, putting our protocols firmly front and centre in order to get community rugby back safely while protecting our clubs, participants and the wider communities.”