Rugby restart plan welcomed by Saints
St Austell’s Steve Murley
By Gareth Davies
3rd March 2021
Director of rugby Steve Murley says St Austell have welcomed the Rugby Football Union’s return to rugby roadmap, whilst remaining cautious at the game returning to normality.
After the Government released their own covid-19 exit strategy in February, the RFU have taken stock of the information and come up with their own formula that should see rugby back to something like pre-covid times, so the 2021-22 league season can start on time in September.
Similar to rugby’s roadmap out of lockdown that was devised due to the first covid wave 12 months ago, clubs and players will be able to partake in on-field activities in stages.
The first of those will see contact training resume on March 29 although scrummaging and mauling will not be permitted. Gradually, during April and May, restrictions will be lifted further to allow full contact training and gameplay with all rules possibly lifted by mid-June at the same time Government restrictions are planned to end.
“The return to rugby has been well received at the club whilst everyone is really, really cautious about it,” Murley told the Voice.
“We know things are going well with the pandemic as it seems we have turned the corner. We also know that if we are going to make a comeback and that comeback will be irreversible, then it will be done by taking baby steps.
“There will always be people that think you can go a little bit quicker but it is a nice approach from the RFU.”
Murley added that any decision on his squad taking part in competitive games – friendlies, or a Cornwall cup competition in the coming months before next season, would be determined by feedback received from his players.
When discussing a full-contact return further, Murley admitted his players are ‘keen and enthusiastic’ to play. However, the Tregorrick Park chief once again urged caution in this respect.
He added: “The club have put a survey out to our players because we want to be player driven by all of this. If you look at the map and do the math, we can’t comeback to train before March 29.
“The roadmap says that training is only limited before this increases slightly on April 26. This does include scrum and maul with full contact training, which co-ordinates with stage three on the PM’s map. Two weeks after that, we reach a stage when full contact rugby is back.
“None of those stages will be reached any earlier so we need to be careful. Everyone is desperate to get rugby back, but you have a real duty of care to your players, to make sure they have sufficient training so they are match-fit and match ready.
“You wouldn’t want to go out and play some matches for a few weeks to then lose a player through injury who will be wiped out for the coming season.
“We have left it up to the players and we have told them what the road map says. We have given them options but for community and grassroots players, there is now a time where sports overlap.
“We may get players that want to go and play cricket, before coming back to play next season. Until we speak to the, we just don’t know. What I would say is that the feedback from the players so far is that they are keen and enthusiastic to get back to rugby as soon as possible, in a way that doesn’t cause injury.”
Meanwhile, the RFU echoed the sentiments of Murley and said that the latest developments was a case of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
“We are pleased to be able to publish our plan for a phased return to full contact rugby,” enthused RFU development director Steve Grainger.
“It’s wonderful to see light at the end of the tunnel and we are as delighted as clubs and players across the country that they will soon be able to resume training and, subject to each stage on government’s roadmap being achieved, progress towards an exciting season of rugby for 2021- 22, starting in September.
“Over the next couple of weeks, we will share detailed stage-by-stage guidance to make the return to rugby as simple and as safe as possible as we progress through the stages.
“As more guidance is published by government, we will provide facilities guidance to ensure clubs are in the best possible position when they’re able to re-open their clubhouses.”