Club rugby could be set for a return to our local fields in the coming weeks once the country moves into COVID-19 alert level two following guidance about organised sport released by Sport New Zealand today.

The New Zealand Government today confirmed what life will look like for New Zealanders when the country moves to level two.

Included in the guidelines were provisions for contact sports like rugby to go ahead providing good contact tracing is possible and hygiene measures - particularly washing and drying of hands - and regular sanitising of equipment and surfaces are put in place.

The full level two guidelines as they relate to sport can be found here:

“We will be working with New Zealand Rugby and our clubs in the coming weeks to ensure all the appropriate safety measures are put in place in line with the advice received today,” Counties Manukau Rugby’s general manager Aaron Lawton said. 

“There’s plenty of work to do in this space but there’s no question this is hugely exciting news for our clubs and our community.”

Lawton said a significant amount of planning had been undertaken regarding potential club competition draws and a blueprint for clubs outlining the required hygiene measures would be provided by the Union in consultation with NZR.

A decision would also need to be made on how long clubs would need to train for together again before playing competitively.

“We intend to meet with our Council of Delegates (CODs) executive team in the coming days to work through all the options on the table and what this means for our clubs,” Lawton added.

“From there, we will need to meet with the full CODs group to make some key decisions. The same applies to the Junior Management Board who manage junior rugby in our region. 

“We are very keen to see rugby make its return but we also take the safety of our players and people involved with the game seriously so will be ensuring robust plans are in place before any competitions kick off.” 

NZR CEO Mark Robinson said the guidelines provided clarity for Provincial Unions, Clubs and schools, and meant staff and volunteers could make robust plans for how rugby could be played across New Zealand. 

“This is an encouraging step for all our thousands of players, coaches, referees and volunteers who’ve been missing their weekend footy over the past couple of months. We look forward to being back on the grass when we’re cleared to do so.” 

NZR is developing COVID-19 training resources for clubs, volunteers and schools to help them prepare for a return to play. This information will be tailored to our specific requirements and provided to all CMRFU stakeholders as soon as it is available.