Rugby Australia and the Australian Super Rugby teams have today given notice to premier clubs in their respective States that all contracted squad members preparing for the proposed Vodafone Super Rugby AU competition will be ineligible for club selection and training from now through to the initial stages of the competition.
The collective decision has been made by Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams in accordance with agreed bio-security measures which have been signed off by the various Government health agencies.
Rugby Australia Head of Professional Rugby Services, Ben Whitaker said: “Given the current restrictions facing professional and community sport as a whole and our desire to have professional rugby return and thrive in a domestic format, we must take the necessary strict action to mitigate the risk of both infection and transmission of the virus within any of our professional environments, despite there being a very strong and understandable desire for players to play club rugby where possible.
“This has been specifically addressed within our Return To Play plan and players and coaches have been informed of the decision.
“Whilst it is acknowledged it is the desire of all Super Rugby teams to provide game time to players outside any given matchday 23, especially via club rugby, it has been agreed by teams that this practice in the current environment, where we are still seeing some evidence of community spread, would significantly compromise the team environment and possibly the competition.
“As with all things during this COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is changing rapidly and regularly. The professional rugby Return to Play Committee will continue to keep teams updated as to any changes to directives from the various Governments, and how that in turn effects our guidelines and the ability for contracted players to participate safely in club rugby.
"The Committee will regularly re-assess the status of this player welfare directive and remain agile to align the availability of professional players with the measures in place to mitigate the risk profile of COVID-19 in community training environments.”
With all contracted players required to only operate in their respective Super Rugby environments in the short-term, they are being encouraged to find other ways to stay connected with their clubs whilst undertaking only essential tasks outside of their home and team environments.
Rugby Australia remains in discussions with its broadcast and commercial partners over the proposed Super Rugby AU competition, which has planned kick-off date of July 3.