Marcus Filipetto gets his pass away for Toowoomba Rangers during a match against Toowoomba Bears.
Marcus Filipetto gets his pass away for Toowoomba Rangers during a match against Toowoomba Bears.

Roadmap to rugby excites clubs

RUGBY : Rangers know they are not alone in their COVID-19 struggles.

Their 2020 season preparations, like all community sports clubs, were put on indefinite hold when social-distancing was introduced.

“COVID-19 has impacted the entire region, and rugby is not immune,” Rangers president Steve Weier said.

“They (the players) just want to be back playing rugby, they miss it badly, but they understand we all have a community obligation to stay safe.

“Rugby is a social outlet and a great positive mental health tool for the region.

“Players have kept in touch via online tools but it is not the same as playing rugby, seeing families out watching the games or having a drink with your mates after the game.”

However there is hope after Queensland Rugby Union released its “road map for the resumption of community rugby” late last week.

“Like all Queenslanders we’ve noted the recent metrics from the Queensland government and their health experts that suggest that social distancing and other policy measures are flattening the curve on COVID-19 infections in this state,” QRU CEO David Hanham said.

“In working with a range of internal and external stakeholders on the future lifting of the current suspension of community rugby in Australia, we remain cautiously optimistic that the road map we’ve created could see a return to community rugby training on June 1 with competitive rugby matches – at senior and junior level – to resume on July 1.

“We recognise that this plan is contingent on continuing positive health trends within Queensland but the actions of Queenslanders over the last few weeks are giving us confidence that these resumption dates are an achievable aim.

“The QRU’s GM of Community Rugby, Gaven Head, will continue his extensive consultative planning work with a range of stakeholders to continuously assess the timelines within this road map, to ensure that when rugby is able to resume, it does so in a safe and managed way, while ensuring federal and state protocols are being observed and enforced.”

Weier sees the “road map” as a significant boost for community rugby.

“This road map is a massive step in the right direction,” he said.

“It is a preliminary plan and is subject to change but it gives people some hope and positivity.

“Best case, we are back playing in July, worst case that slips back a bit but a plan and some positivity within the game is vital to keep people in the right mindset.

“As I said, rugby is an outlet for so many people and when outlets have been shut off to stay safe within COVID-19 it has a mental health impact – so the sooner we are back safely playing rugby the better.

“I think we have all realised how lucky we are to live in a country where for the past 40-50 years rugby has been open for everyone to play and when you take that away you can’t help but realise how lucky we are to have the great game of rugby.”

With a clearer timeline in place, Rangers should be well placed for a return to rugby.

“Before COVID-19 the club was looking healthy with the arrival of a number of new players and support staff arriving at the club along with a number of returning players,” Weier said.

“Training has been impacted but every club has the same issues to overcome.

“We have posted fitness plans and activities in our social media groups and the players have been quite good at staying active, fit and healthy.”

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