March2, 2020 Victoria, BC (ISN) - Photo : Erich Eichhorn (

As of September 1, BC Rugby will move to the next phase of their ‘Return to Rugby’ plan which permits sanctioned clubs to deliver touch and flag rugby training and in-house leagues. The decision follows the announcement made by Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, that sport moves to Phase 3 of the viaSport Return to Sport Guidelines. Annually, September 1 marks the start of the new rugby season in British Columbia.

“We’re looking forward to a fun, inclusive fall season consisting of touch and flag rugby, the non-contact versions of our sport,” said Annabel Kehoe, CEO of BC Rugby. “Our Member Clubs have been working hard on their COVID Safety Plans and I have every confidence that they’re going to be ready to welcome new and returning players.”

BC Rugby suspended inter-club activity on March 12 with Rugby Canada suspending all rugby activity the very next day. The suspension wiped out the remaining four weeks of regular season play and all playoff fixtures for senior club rugby. The global pandemic also resulted in the loss of the majority of the high school rugby spring season. The move to the Rugby Restart phase marks another step forward in the effort to resume rugby in a manner that is both safe and engaging for both players and coaches.

BC Rugby requires Member Clubs to submit a COVID Safety Plan, as well as evidence of key club leaders completing World Rugby’s COVID-19 Awareness online course, to receive sanctioning and insurance coverage. To date, 12 Member Clubs have been sanctioned with Prince Rupert Rugby Club, Vancouver Rowing Club and Bayside Sharks being the first to complete the paperwork.

Coinciding with the Minister’s announcement, viaSport have also provided updated guidelines that more clearly allow for league play and competitions within sport ‘cohorts’. viaSport have assigned Rugby to ‘Group C’ which means all participants that will breach physical distancing must be assigned to a consistent ‘cohort’ of no more than 50 ppl for training or games. This ‘cohort’ becomes participants’ ‘rugby bubble’ that they consistently participate with in the training or game modifications permitted under ‘Rugby Restart’ (i.e. touch and flag rugby).

These updated viaSport Guidelines have resulted in a slight modification of the Return to Rugby in BC plan which has been communicated directly to Club Leaders.

 Vancouver Rowing Club’s Director of Rugby Chris Seyler expressed profound excitement in being able to return to the pitch.

“We are beyond excited in taking the next step to be able to return to the pitch in a safe manner. The club has worked with BC Rugby to create a Return to Play Policy that will protect our members. Looking forward to throwing around the oval ball again!”

Information on the Return to Rugby plan for players, coaches, referees and club leaders can be found at