World Rugby have published Return To Play Guidelines which outline a framework which individual unions can introduce in order to begin the process of resuming games in their own country.
Of course, each country is different in terms of the impact it has suffered from COVID-19, but the guidelines offer a framework for three time-bound return to training phases – small group training, full group non-contact training and full contact training.
They also outline the conditions which need to be present for the return of matches in a domestic, cross-border and cross-continent context and processes for facility and stadium preparation.
It is in this latter guidance where World Rugby discuss the minimum number of people required to stage a game of rugby behind-closed-doors.
There is little doubt about it, matches with no spectators will be the new normal for the foreseeable future due to the length of time it will take to develop a vaccine.
Nevertheless, World Rugby have stated that a minimum of 167 people will be required to stage a game of rugby:
Home team players 15
Visiting team players 15
Home team substitutes and bench support 11
Visiting team substitutes and bench support 11
Home team travelling reserves 3
Visiting team travelling reserves 3
Home team roving Doctor 1
Visiting team roving Doctor 1
Home team roving Physiotherapist 1
Visiting team roving Physiotherapist 1
Home team Technical box (water carriers) 2
Visiting team Technical box (water carriers) 2
Home team Coaches box 5
Visiting team Coaches box 5
Match Day Doctor 1
Immediate Care Lead 1
Medical room video viewer 1
Other medical specialists 2
Medical room video operator 1
Security guards 4
Assistant Referee 2
Side-line Referees, time keeper, statistics and communications 7
Television Match Official 1
Citing Commissioner 1
Ball team and ball team supervisor 7
Match Manager 1
Match Director 1
Broadcaster pitch-side crew (cameramen, line runners & floor manager) 20
Outside broadcasting van 15
Stadium operations 8
Big screen and PA announcer 2
Of course, the challenge for World Rugby, competition organisers and the various stakeholders will be to implement systems and structures whereby safe conditions can exist for the above people to deliver a game of professional rugby.
Hopefully, the publication of this document will be the first step on the road of seeing rugby resume sooner rather than later.
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