GAME ON: When will rugby kick-off in the Darling Downs?
RUGBY : There are bridges to cross and obstacles to clear, but rugby on the Darling Downs is set to kick-off in July.
Downs Rugby general manager Matt Hammond said the 2020 season would start on July 18 provided there were no changes in the COVID-19 landscape.
“Working in line with Queensland State Government’s Roadmap and Queensland Rugby Union’s plan for community rugby’s return, we’ve set a July 18 start,” Hammond said.
“It won’t be an easy path but we’re working hard to ensure the safe return of rugby for the players and everyone involved.
“I think it’s important to mention the excellent work QRU and the likes of (QRU community rugby general manager) Gaven Head have being doing since day one of this situation.
“Without their work and communication we wouldn’t be in the position we are in.”
Despite the recent change in State Government thinking, rugby training will remain on hold this week but clubs will participate in a key webinar this weekend.
“To help facilitate the return of community rugby the QRU introduced a very simple communication method – the traffic light system,” Hammond said.
“At the moment the status is red which means no rugby official rugby training activities this week despite the change to government guidelines.
“Clubs will be able to start training in line with government and QRU guidelines from June 8.
“This weekend volunteers from clubs will be taking part in an online webinar.
“Each club needs to appoint one or more COVID-Safe officers.
“A lot needs to happen to ensure the safe return of rugby and the training they will receive is part of that.
“We (Downs Rugby) will have a database with the details of all the COVID-Safe officers to make sure we can communicate effectively and that all the necessary guidelines are being met.”
Closer to the start of the season a number of key criteria will need to be met before players can lace up their boots and play.
“Camaraderie, health and sportsmanship are key focuses in community rugby,” Hammond said.
“We can’t wait to see rugby return so that our players and supporters can enjoy those things from a mental and physical point of view.
“But it’s also very important to us that the players are prepared physically for a return to play.
“Around July 10-18 one of our focuses will confidence in contact.
“With limited preparation and contact training time, clubs will need to assess their players to make sure they are ready for the demands of rugby.
“If players are not ready they will be given more time to get their skills up to speed before they can take to the field.