NO try celebrations, NO ice baths and NO injured players on the sidelines… Premiership Rugby take drastic measures in a bid to curb spread of coronavirus in the sport after Northampton-Leicester became fifth match of the season to be called off
Try celebrations and ice baths are now banned in Premiership Rugby as the league attempts to curb the spread of Covid having had to cancel another game.
The East Midlands derby between Northampton and Leicester became the fifth match of the season to be called off after positive cases at Saints.
It means three rounds in a row have now been hit by coronavirus.
Try celebrations are now banned in Premiership Rugby as they try to tackle the rise of Covid-19
Ice-filled recovery baths at training are no longer allowed for teams due to increase of Covid
Northampton Saints’ clash vs Leicester Tigers is now off after a breakout of cases at the club
Northampton’s training ground will now be closed until their next round of tests on Monday, and when points are awarded they will take two and Leicester four from the axed match under league regulations.
With more transmittable strains of Covid now in circulation and following a worrying trend of cancellations the league’s organisers have decided to introduce harsher strictures around training and match-days designed to minimise unnecessary contact.
Sportsmail has learned that includes no ‘post-try face-to-face celebrations’ on match-days, ‘non playing players’ will no longer be able to attend games to boost home support and players will have to take food away from the ground after.
While social-distancing and face covering measures will be tightened up too all pre-match warm-ups will now be filmed to help identify close contacts in the event of an outbreak.
So far, five of the last 18 Premiership games have been called off this season – all in the most recent three rounds – and seven clubs have been affected.
Newcastle vs Leicester – Round 4
Bath vs London Irish – Round 4
Worcester vs Harlequins – Round 5
Northampton vs London Irish – Round 5
Northampton vs Leicester – Round 6
Saints and Tigers have gained the most points from cancellations. Current regulations hand four to the team not at fault, and two to the club that were.
Northampton 6pts from cancellations
London Irish 4pts
And at training ice-filled recovery baths are no longer allowed, changing rooms should only be used to shower, all meetings must either take place outside or virtually and food must not be eaten indoors.
While Premiership players are tested for Covid at least once a week these measures are designed to help further reduce transmission. At present, the league expects the five other matches this weekend to go ahead.
Chris Boyd, in charge of Northampton who have seen two consecutive matches called off after their Irish game fell last week, said of the derby cancellation: ‘We has been absolutely rigorous in how we have followed the protocols laid out for us, and despite returning a number of positive tests this week, we were confident that we have more than enough of our squad still healthy and available to play the game if required.
‘However, we are following the advice we have been given, which was not to play the game and to close our training facility until next week.’
Steve Borthwick at Leicester said: ‘We understand the situation, having been through it, and will offer whatever support we can to our friends down the road.’
Exeter’s Rob Baxter revealed the Chiefs have had positives but will test players again in the coming days to make sure they can play Bristol, who are all clear, on Saturday.
‘We feel a responsibility to get on top of things very quickly and not risk players going on to the field with anything, or risking transmitting anything to Bristol,’ said Baxter.
Up at Newcastle, director of rugby Dean Richards has said the Falcons have been using ‘rapid-flow’ tests to supplement the usual rounds coordinated by Randox and thinks others should too.
‘I’m a big believer in rapid-flow tests,’ said Richards.
‘I don’t see why they can’t be used more going forward depending on the accuracy of them.
‘They are far cheaper than the system we’re using at the moment, but we still need the baseline figure that Randox gives us at the moment.’
MINIMUM OPERATING STANDARDS REVISIONS
• All meetings must now be conducted virtually and/or outside (Socially Distanced and Face Coverings)
• Face coverings must be worn at all times, within buildings
• Use of changing rooms must be limited to showering after outdoor rugby sessions and player flow through changing rooms to be monitored.
• Updated COVID-19 posters and messaging must be updated and be clearly visible
• Training schedules must be reviewed to reduce player time at the facility and minimise any requirement for showers (gym/weights, followed by pitch training sessions)
• All non-training personnel pitchside (e.g. injured players/S&C staff) must be socially distanced and to wear face coverings
• No external non-tested visitors, with the exception of UKAD and essential staff
• Ice Baths are no longer permitted – or similar cold-based recovery modalities
• Food must now be a grab and go take away system only i.e. no indoor eating
• Transport plan and procedures reinforced (socially distanced and face coverings), no car sharing; seating plans (coach/plane) to be made available on request for the contact tracing process
• Non-Playing Players are no longer permitted to attend matches unless a travelling reserve
• Social distancing and face coverings to be reinforced for all venue and team staff
• Minimise time in changing rooms (especially post-game)
• Optimise ventilation in changing rooms wherever possible
• All warm-ups must now be filmed in addition to the continued filming of all training and matches
• Clubs to reinforce water carrier and medical staff PPE requirements and correct usage.
• No post Try face to face celebrations
• Post-match food – grab and go
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