Rugby in Scotland has signalled the tentative start of a return to playing after the coronavirus pandemic by taking part in a meeting with Scottish Government Sports Minister Joe FitzPatrick next week.
A letter sent to member clubs from Murrayfield’s Threat Management Group states that they will be seeking “to put forward proactive scenarios around how a return to rugby could look.”
A new working group has been formed within Murrayfield designed specifically how the sport can plan for a return to playing, with representatives from the pro teams Glasgow and Edinburgh, medical staff – presumably head medic Dr James Robson – as well as Scottish Rugby’s performance and events departments.
They will meet “with the objective of creating realistic scenarios to allow rugby in Scotland to return as soon as is practical and in line with Government COVID-19 guidelines,” states the letter.
Scottish Rugby were privately keen to stress that they were setting no specific timeline and that the meeting with the sports minister was just a first step.
Dr Robson, possibly world sport’s most experienced medical official having worked with Scotland and the Lions since the late 1980s, last week poured cold water on the idea of “closed door” sports.
In the direct example of rugby, he reckoned players would require a lengthy recovery programme amounting to effectively a new pre-season training regime before they could return to playing safely after such a long break for the sporting shutdown.
“When considering a return to playing rugby we will look to take a step by step approach and there are numerous different factors to take into consideration, especially around social distancing, management of any potential injuries with the required level of medical support and players, and the staff supporting them, from risk of infection,” reads the statement to clubs.
The statement notes that lockdown measures “are working with a continued plateau and a steady reduction in the number of ICU beds in use.
“The numbers are a cause for optimism but currently not an indication that the lockdown measures can be reduced,” it adds.
Specific to Scottish Rugby, the closing date for applications to the club hardship fund passed at the end of April but work continued in providing advice and support to our clubs including awareness around mental health and facilities maintenance.
Officials were working to assist Super6 clubs while also involved in global discussions on the Pro14, Six Nations, European Pro Club Rugby and World Rugby over the proposed calendar and “tournament completion considerations”
PRO14 officials are set to meet next week to update on the incomplete 2019-20 season and while Scottish Rugby’s official position is that they would like to see some kind of completion, it’s understood that a majority of the four union partners involved want the rest of the season scrapped and current unbeaten leaders Leinster declared champions.