In discussion with Scottish Rugby’s Leadership Team

In discussion with Scottish Rugby’s Leadership Team

Members of Scottish Rugby’s Threat Management Group discuss the latest updates in relation to COVID-19 and the impact on rugby in Scotland on this week's Official Scottish Rugby Podcast.

Covering the professional and domestic game were, Chief Operating Officer, Dominic McKay, Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Robson and Director of Rugby Development, Sheila Begbie who provided an update on when rugby could resume as well as what professional rugby activity might look like.

Speaking on The Official Scottish Rugby Podcast on a possible phased return to players training and the sport resuming, Dominic said:

“As a sport rugby is no different to football, they have the same challenge so that is on-going with government on how the grassroots element can resume.

“What we were focusing on initially on Friday was a roadmap, a graduated roadmap for rugby to resume at the elite level aligned with the government’s own phased approach which was released by the First Minister just a few weeks ago that would potentially see our players turning to what we are describing as a bubble at BT Murrayfield to train later in June, perhaps towards the end of June.

“With a roadmap that could potentially see behind closed-door games taking place at the back end of August into early September.”

On the detailed roadmap to return to training and playing, our podcast host Rachel Malcolm asked where the international women’s game fitted into that, in a year that includes World Cup Qualification and Sevens Series events. Dominic added:

“One of the particularly challenging areas at the moment is around the international women’s game because of the qualification for the World Cup and preparations for the sevens for the Team GB for Olympics.

“Working with our colleagues in Rugby Europe, liaising with the Six Nations and World Rugby to try and look at what that calendar might look like, not just for the rest of this year but into the next couple of years to make sure that we can restart the international women’s game appropriately.

“A lot of thought needs to go into how best to gradually bring the women’s game back when its right and proper at the international level and equally I know within Sheila’s group that there is a lot of work happening to bring rugby back domestically and that of course it is about the whole game and that is about schools, males, females and that is so important that we give some encouragement when we can about the whole game returning in that graduated phase.”

Dominic highlighted the important role rugby has in getting the country fit and healthy:

“We have got to get the country fit and we have all been home longer than we might have liked, stuck behind a desk or laptops and the same applies to young people.

“Kids need to get out there, get active and get fit again and healthy and rugby has an important role to play in that.

“We have said that to Government that we want to play a role in getting the country fit and healthy and when we can through Sheila’s great work and her teams great work then we will share some guidance and support around the clubs and getting schools back playing rugby, but it’s going to be a while of yet.”

Scottish Rugby's Director of Rugby Development, Sheila Begbie talked about the focus of her work and support for member clubs:

“The main focus for us is the safety of our rugby communities. We will work with Scottish Government guidelines and advice, and we will return to play rugby when it is safe to do so.

“Just to reassure people, we are working in the background to how we allow and support rugby clubs to start to train and play again, to open their facilities again and we have got a group that is meeting again today (Tuesday) looking at the club and school game, including Super6, reviewing against Government advice on what the clubs can and cannot do and we will be sending out some communications across all of our media platforms on Friday and will be sharing with clubs on what they can and cannot do at the moment.”

On supporting our clubs and schools through this difficult time, Sheila added:

“There is no opportunity for them to generate income at the moment so quite rightly we as an organisation looked at the Club Hardship Fund. We had 82 applications to the fund, and we have made 82 awards, so that every club that applied is getting something.”

Scottish Rugby will also be sharing a best practice webinar series throughout the year:

“We are looking at a whole host of webinars from June to the end of year on how we support our club coaches, match officials, general club volunteers in the game and sharing best practice and certainly through the work we are doing to get the game back up and running again in Scotland, we are looking at evidence from other countries and other unions across the world and bringing what good practice we can get from other unions to what we are trying to do here in Scotland as well.”

Dr James Robson is heavily involved in planning of returning to training, and shared some of the early plans for what that will look like for our professional players:

“Our plans for professional players is to have them running in channels of 17 metres apart so we are taking no chances with social distancing.

“We’ve even built some outdoor gymnasium areas because again the science shows us the chance of transmission and becoming infected outdoors is very much smaller outdoors, so everything is geared towards outdoors.”

Dominic McKay then spoke about the possibility of BT Murrayfield hosting a British & Irish Lions warm-up match in 2021 and revealed discussions have taken place with football clubs about potentially using BT Murrayfield.

Dominic said: “We see the Lions having an incredible weekend of rugby at BT Murrayfield before they head off on tour to South Africa. I know that our bid has been really well received by the Lions Board, but at the moment it is just really speculation on the basis that a lot needs to happen between now and a Lions tour.”

He added: “There is a wider point here that could BT Murrayfield be used for events and other sports in the way that we have got that protective bubble environment, absolutely, we have spoken to various football teams in the city of Edinburgh around potentially utilising our facility in the season ahead and we would be happy to do that if it was right for them and for us.

“If sport can collaborate then football can play at BT Murrayfield to restart their sport and that helps our sport start in many ways. We can share the best practice from an elite game in rugby and in football, to share with our colleagues in grassroots and to restart the sport at grassroots level at some point and we must do that.”

To hear the full interview with Scottish Rugby’s Leadership Team, download The Official Scottish Rugby Podcast on your podcast platform. Information on how to start listening, where to find the podcast and for previous episodes, click here.

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