COVID UPDATE FROM Sydney Junior Rugby Union – Fri 29th May

Another week and another COVID update! Nothing new in terms of changes to Community Sport, so we continue in the initial stages of training and await further confirmation of when we can go to the next stage.

Many clubs have been formulating their plans to get back into training and in doing so comply with the NSW Health orders and follow the checklists we have provided. Some have already made it back onto the training field – so well done to all. Perhaps as expected, given we do not yet have a set of State Government endorsed guidelines or framework for the return of Community Sport, there is some variation between the requirements and conditions of different councils. I understand there is Club frustration, but I commend the hard work many of you are doing to put together robust and effective plans to get your players back into training in this groups of 10 or less, non-contact phase we are in.

Should you require some assistance in your dialogue with Councils, please do not hesitate to let me know. I am happy to speak to them, Zoom meeting, whatever might assist in smoothing the way for a return to the field.

🏉 HAS THIS WEEK CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE SJRU PLAN?

In short no.

Our plan is still to be confirmed but includes a 9-10 week home and away season of XV’s Junior Rugby. Our intended start date remains the weekend of 24-26 July, but we are looking at the potential to commence a week earlier, which would give us a 10 week XV’s comp. Frosty’s (subject to canvassing Clubs) will have an 8-week comp starting on 25 July. We also plan to run our Springs 7’s competition for 8 weeks from the weekend of 17/18th October, and in Season 2020 this will offer a Girls Wave of Spring 7’s, as well as Boys.

We will present more detail on this to Clubs/Districts in webinars which are planned for the next week or two – I will be back to you on Monday with some planned dates for these. These meetings will afford Clubs/Districts the opportunity to ask questions – we won’t know all the answers but we will do our best, and it will provide you with the tools to brief your participants on what the Season plan is.

We of course cannot guarantee that these date targets will be met – when we have the government ok for when Community Sport can start again, you will be the first to know!

🏉 DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY AND MIXED MESSAGES

Unfortunately, Community Rugby and Community Sport in its entirety is dealing with uncertainty about what the future staging of sport is going to look like. This uncertainty is also being felt by Councils as they field requests from many Community Sports to utilise council facilities to train. We have mixed messaging out there on mainstream media, social media and via government agencies including publication of guidelines such as those brought out by Sports Australia on Sunday 24th May.

The Sports Australia guidelines, associated checklists and collateral including signage/posters etc contain a lot of useful information (please note I will send Clubs/Districts a separate note this weekend, with signage info, poster material, and some coach content). However, it is specified that no State, Territory or Local Government has endorsed these guidelines. They were also prepared in collaboration with the sport of Hockey.

You would recall that: State and Territory governments and their public health authorities and responsible for decisions about the resumption of sporting activities in each jurisdiction, both at professional and community level.

The SJRU has taken a very definite strategy with information on returning to the field in COVID world – we focus on:
• what is current in terms of public health orders and government restrictions; and
• what our Clubs/Districts need to know so they can plan and implement a return to training or play – with the priority being the phase of this we are dealing with now.

We don’t know when this Phase of small groups, non-contact will end. When we know, you will know, and you will also get our guidance of how to deal with that phase, the same applies to return to full-contact and matches.

An immediate concern has been expressed about the attendee limits at Community Sport venues flagged in the Sports Australia guidelines (and in fact also in the AIS Framework for Reboot of Sport). How can we run games like is a common question?

For clarity, there is no NSW State Government endorsed limit or guidance on how many people will be allowed to attend Community Sport – we currently have public health orders that limit the gathering of people.

NSW Rugby has been in constant contact with the Sports Minister and the Office of Sport pursuing dates for information distribution, guidelines, and anything we can obtain on crowd sizing/conditions for sports gatherings. We are obviously not the only sport chasing this. As yet, the required information and clarity has not been forthcoming. However, the State government is already flagging increases in numbers for gatherings and events amid further easing of restrictions, and as soon we have the information relevant to Rugby, we will communicate it too you.

If the guidelines, which subsequently emerge:
• do not follow a common-sense approach to the prevailing health orders; and/or
• unfairly and illogically restrict Community Rugby crowd and attendance numbers

then the SJRU, and other relevant Rugby bodies will take that up with the relevant State Government bodies – whilst ensuring what we propose remains within the health orders, and retains the safety of our participants as the priority. You can guarantee that in such circumstances, Rugby will not be the only sport vigorously debating with government.

So, I want to encourage everyone to stay the course. No-one can guarantee when and under what conditions, we will return to the field and stage matches, but I would urge all Clubs/Districts to remain positive and diligently return to the training field over coming weeks, adhering to appropriate COVID planning. You will be able to read your participants desire to return to training, and I would urge a cautious approach to starting too early, particularly with the mini’s.

As Club/Districts meet over coming weeks, Presidents should feel free to reach out to me or your Zone Director prior to your meetings, and we will endeavour to answer any queries you have. If you would like me to participate in meetings via Zoom/phone etc, I am also happy to do so if you think this would assist.

Feel free of course to come back with any queries, and look out for my further email tomorrow.

All the best, and take care of each other out there

John Glen
Youth Manager NSW Rugby




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