June 12, 2020 – Langford, BC: As Rugby Canada and all Provincial Member Unions continue to move towards a return to play, the National Working group has provided further updates on the process:
Rugby Canada would like to thank the 4,000 registered participants from 2019 who took time to complete the recent membership survey. Results showed more than three quarters of respondents being very likely or likely to return to rugby activities, even if in a modified format. The collected data aligned well with the phased implementation direction of the ‘Return to Play’ working group. Detailed results of the survey will be shared with all Provincial Unions.
Overview of the ‘Rugby Return to Play’ document
The Rugby Return to Play document will be based on the latest information available to date from third-party sources, including the World Health Organization, World Rugby and local health authorities. The document is meant to provide information and guidance as to the best rugby training practices based on current information. Each Provincial Union and Rugby Club will be responsible for assessing the risks in its environment and establishing the appropriate safety procedures to minimise those risks, while following the advice and instructions of public health and government authorities in conjunction with the Rugby Return to Play document.
The document will be provided as a reference for each Provincial Union to adapt and align to their Province’s timing and structure of eased COVID-19 restrictions, assisting in the creation of a Provincial Return to Rugby plan. In doing so, Provincial Unions and their Member Organizations need to be sure to comply with local requirements (including health & safety, employment and COVID-19-specific legislation) and any policies implemented by government or local authorities.
The regulations and guidelines at the Provincial level will ultimately drive the timelines for when a return to play is possible, coupled with the suspension of sanctioned activities being lifted by the Rugby Canada Board.
Risk Management and Insurance
As part of their fiduciary duties, the Board of each Provincial Union and every Member Club will be responsible for the oversight of risk for their rugby organizations.
Despite some Provincial governments confirming liability insurance coverage for their Provincial Rugby Union, the National Insurance Policy, put in place by Rugby Canada, will not cover “any actual or alleged liability, injury, damage, loss, cost or expense arising directly or indirectly out of, caused by, resulting from, in consequence with or in any way involving or related to any virus or communicable disease.” This exclusion also applies to the Directors and Officers Insurance Policy.
It is critically important that Clubs, Provincial Unions and Rugby Canada take all necessary precautions in mitigating the risk associated with COVID-19 transmission to our participants. An updated Participation Agreement and Waiver of Liability form has been developed for all registered participants to sign. The Rugby Return to Play document provides important requirements and guidelines for Provincial Unions and Clubs to follow to further mitigate these risks.
Immediate actions Rugby Clubs can take to be ready to return to play
In advance of the national Rugby Return to Play document being formally approved and implemented, there are measures that Clubs can take to prepare. This will help ensure a streamlined and seamless transition when returning to play.
Being prepared to return to play will require Member Organizations (Clubs) to identify and appoint one or more COVID-19 Safety Coordinators to be responsible for implementing their Provincial Union’s Return to Rugby plan (and all other relevant guidance, advice and instruction regarding COVID-19) in respect of certain discrete elements, such as particular training facilities and venues.
There are two COVID-19 related courses provided by World Rugby which can be accessed at: https://playerwelfare.worldrugby.org/covid-19-courses.
The identified safety coordinator and Club President will be required to complete the Administrator course as part of their application to return to play with their Provincial Union. In addition, it is strongly recommended that all coaches, officials, team managers and therapists complete a relevant course.
Next steps to ‘Return to Play’
It is expected that the national Rugby Return to Play document will be presented next week to the Rugby Canada Board for approval, which will be followed by the lifting of the suspension of sanctioned rugby activities.
Until such time that final Provincial approval is given and individual participants have registered, rugby enthusiasts are encouraged to stay active within the guidelines of their Provincial Health Authority.