An Update for the Rugby Community from Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle

by Raelene Castle

An Update for the Rugby Community from Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle

Dear Rugby Community,

I’m writing to you to provide an update on Rugby Australia’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As you know this is a constantly evolving situation and we will continue to base all of our decisions on the latest advice from the relevant authorities and experts.

The health and safety of our players, staff, volunteers and the entire Rugby community continues to be our number one priority and while we all want to see the game back up and running as soon as possible, we won’t make any decisions that put anyone at risk.

Please see below an update on where things currently stand.

Suspension of the Super Rugby season

SANZAAR has already announced its decision to suspend the Vodafone Super Rugby season following the completion of Round 7 over the weekend. We are working closely with our SANZAAR partners to assess our options and I’m hopeful we can provide you with an update on what the remainder of the competition looks like in the coming days.

Super W Finals

Given it is a domestic competition and does not require international travel, the Super W season will continue but the playoff and Grand Final matches will be played in closed venues. The 2 v 3 playoff will be played at Ballymore Stadium at 130pm local time on Saturday between the Reds Women and Brumbies Women. The winner will advance to play the Waratahs Women in a closed Final the following weekend in Sydney.

Rugby Australia operations

Following a small number of people from our Sevens program showing flu-like symptoms over the weekend, Rugby AU HQ is currently closed for Monday and Tuesday for deep cleaning. All staff are working remotely while we await test results.

Our Chief Medical Officer, Warren McDonald, has already implemented a number of precautionary measures for our players and staff regarding travel, hygiene and self-management to protect them. This includes restricting access for visitors to the Rugby HQ in Moore Park over the coming weeks.

I am sure you can appreciate that these measures have been taken in the interests of our entire Rugby community’s health, safety and wellbeing.

Rugby in the community

Today, following a meeting of Rugby Australia and the State and Territory Member Unions, the collective decision was made to postpone Community Rugby until the first week of May, effective immediately.

This recommendation covers Rugby matches, Rugby training and face-to-face Rugby education courses. Although this decision has not been made lightly, it has been made with the interests of the participants, families and the broader community as the priority.

The decision was made taking on board all public health information and the advice of the Rugby Australia Chief Medical Officer, Dr Warren McDonald.

The group acknowledges that this decision is a more conservative approach then has currently been recommended by the Australian, State and Territory Governments. However, it has been made to provide clarity to the Rugby community in a challenging and disruptive time.

Thank you

These are indeed challenging and unprecedented times and I am sure many of you are feeling concerned about what will come next. In terms of the game, Rugby Australia will endeavour to keep you informed as things progress, but the priority must be on each of us doing everything we can to limit the spread of the virus. Any decision we make will be with the health and welfare of our players, staff, volunteers, fans and our community front of mind.

I want to thank the entire Rugby community for their ongoing support under these extraordinary circumstances. We know that this is bigger than Rugby and is something that everyone in the world is trying to come to grips with.

We ask that you listen to the advice of experts and ensure you are doing your bit to help mitigate the impacts. Most importantly though, continue to look out for each other. The Rugby community both at home and abroad is strong and we need to stand together as we navigate this issue over the coming weeks and months.

We will be in touch as soon as we have any further information.

Yours sincerely,

Raelene Castle