The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) has revealed its roadmap for the resumption of Community Rugby across the state, following Australia's Chief Medical Officer noting the possibility of National Cabinet lifting some COVID-19 restrictions in coming weeks.
On March 16, the QRU responded to the COVID-19 emergency by restricting community Rugby participation based on federal and state health advice. Nearly six weeks on, the QRU is well advanced with plans for clubs across the state to return to training and competitive Rugby.
QRU CEO David Hanham said: “Like all Queenslanders we’ve noted the recent metrics from the Queensland government and their health experts that suggest that social distancing and other policy measures are flattening the curve on COVID-19 infections in this state.
“In working with a range of internal and external stakeholders on the future lifting of the current suspension of community Rugby in Australia, we remain cautiously optimistic that the roadmap we’ve created could see a return to community rugby training on June 1 with competitive Rugby matches – at senior and junior level – to resume on July 1.
“We recognise that this plan is contingent on continuing positive health trends within Queensland but the actions of Queenslanders over the last few weeks are giving us confidence that these resumption dates are an achievable aim.
“The QRU’s GM of Community Rugby, Gaven Head, will continue his extensive consultative planning work with a range of stakeholders to continuously asses the timelines within this roadmap, to ensure that when Rugby is able to resume, it does so in a safe and managed way, while ensuring federal and state protocols are being observed and enforced.
“In terms of the resumption of elite professional Rugby, we continue our discussions with Rugby Australia and various federal and state agencies and today’s announcement is separate to that ongoing piece of work.”
Rugby Australia - in association with all the state and territory unions - postponed participation in Rugby activities until June 1 in response to federal and state health alerts. This status is reviewed weekly by RA’s national development panel, which QRU’s Gaven Head is a part of.
Daily infection rates have dropped from over 200 daily new cases nationally at the start of April and Queensland has recorded no new cases of COVID-19 on two days so far this week.
The QRU is maintaining a commitment to support the health imperatives of our members and the broader community, and the QRU has been planning collaboratively with competition personnel from across the twelve state regions to ensure that all clubs and competitions are well prepared for the challenges of any ongoing or modified health restrictions in the weeks to come.
There are five weeks until June 1 with the expectation that the continuing flattening of the curve could see the Queensland government ease some restrictions in advance of this date, should that be the advice of National Cabinet.
QRU has maintained all its community staff members through the federal government Job Keeper package through this unprecedented health event. Those staff have been working to a plan that not only supports the return to play process but also focuses on projects to enhance the quality of the participation experience, such as volunteer workforce education for coaches, match officials and administrators; delivery of mental health programs for clubs; and planning the launch of new and enhanced school competitions both in 7s and 15s.
In the event that further community infection prevents a return on the QRU’s preferred dates, all regions are also preparing local models for an August 1 resumption to competition, to ensure there is flexibility in planning.
More details on the QRU Community Response to COVID-19 is available at www.qld.rugby.