Rugby Canada and the Provincial Rugby Unions are pleased to announce the formation of a pan-Canadian working group with the objective of developing a nationwide ‘Return to Play’ strategy.  The formation of this working group comes as various jurisdictions in Canada begin to loosen some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

The working group will be chaired by Annabel Kehoe, CEO of BC Rugby and consist of representatives from each Provincial Rugby Union and Rugby Canada.  Additionally, each of the provincial unions will be inviting key leaders and coaches from their rugby communities to contribute to this work.  The working group will adhere their planning to the guidelines of relevant public health authorities in each province and the Sport Medicine Advisory Committee. The group will also work in conjunction with Rugby Canada’s national insurance provider.  The objective is to establish what the various stages of returning to play will be.  To ensure that club rugby can be part of the gradual reopening of communities across Canada, the working group will initially consider creative options in terms of ‘rugby-type’ activities, while also developing plans towards resuming full 7s and XVs competitions.

No timelines for implementation have been confirmed at this point, but these will be in sequence with the relaxation of current Provincial public health restrictions within each Province.

Currently, there is an indefinite national suspension of all sanctioned rugby activities including all in-person registered participant team training sessions, all in-person training/education courses and all inter-provincial, club, domestic and international matches and tours.  The national suspension on sanctioned rugby will be lifted when the first Province(s) return to play.  Play will not have to resume uniformly across all Provinces at the same time.  The decision on when to return to play will be made individually by each Provincial Union, with notification made to Rugby Canada.

Rugby Quebec President Stéphane Hamel said, “This year, more than ever we will work together to ensure we get everyone across Canada back on the field safely”

Rugby Manitoba President Dave Simpson said, “With the unprecedented effect Covid 19 has had on the rugby community across Canada, the rugby community has embarked on a cross Canada effort to prepare ourselves for the opportunity to return to play on the fields, in the clubhouses and enjoy the camaraderie that has made rugby what it is. With the efforts from coast to coast, from so many diverse backgrounds, our plan is to have a comprehensive and safe plan to return to play.”

Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said, “This is a positive first step in what will be a methodical, long-term process of returning to play safely. We all want rugby to resume as soon as possible, but we have been steadfast in our commitment to the welfare of players, staff, officials and fans as our top priority.” Vansen continued, “Sport plays a critical role in the physical and emotional wellbeing of Canadians, and rugby clubs are at the heart of our communities providing opportunities for many people to be physically active and engage with new and old friends.”