A ban on ice baths and no face-to-face try celebrations are among tightened Covid-19 measures agreed ahead of this week’s Gallagher Premiership games. Five Premiership fixtures, including next Saturday’s East Midlands derby between Northampton and Leicester, have been cancelled for coronavirus-related reasons in the last twelve days.

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The Professional Game Board – which comprises representatives of Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Players’ Association – has now announced a series of enhancements to existing training and match-day regulations.

These are to ensure minimum operating standards are followed and “provide additional mitigation against Covid transmission among elite players”. They have come into effect prior to Friday’s fixtures between Bath and Wasps at the Recreation Ground and Sale Sharks’ AJ Bell Stadium appointment with Worcester.

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Goodbye 2020!

Revisions for training include ice baths no longer being permitted, while all meetings must now either be conducted virtually and/or outside as socially-distanced gatherings with face coverings.

Use of changing rooms will be limited to showering after outdoor training sessions and a review of schedules must be undertaken by clubs in order to reduce the amount of time spent by players at training facilities. There will also be no indoor eating.

In terms of Premiership match-days, there can be no face-to-face try celebrations and warm-ups must now be filmed, in addition to the continued recording of all training and games. Elsewhere, non-playing squad members are no longer allowed to attend matches unless as a travelling reserve, with food after games and training being a “grab and go” takeaway system.

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The PA news agency understands these revisions of the minimum operating standards are designed to further reduce as far as possible the risk of transmission between individuals at the training ground and match venue during non-rugby activities in light of the recent rise in the community prevalence. They have a specific focus on ensuring social distancing, maximising the use of face coverings and minimising time spent indoors.

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