Leinster Rugby has submitted a proposal to the Irish Government which would allow a reduced number of supporters attend a ‘concept match’ at their RDS stadium, which would act as a test event towards getting fans back into stadiums in Ireland. Sports fans in the Republic of Ireland have been locked out of stadiums since March 2020, but Leinster are hoping to take the first meaningful steps towards getting the Irish public back in attendance at sports events.
Leinster’s proposal, which is supported by the IRFU, would see supporters take a pre-match rapid antigen test on site at the province’s RDS stadium.
Supporters who return a negative antigen test would then be permitted access to the stadium, with attendance capped at 2,000 spectators, which is just 11% of normal match-day capacity.
Leinster Rugby members would be offered an opportunity, by ballot, to purchase a pair of tickets for the game and each attending pair of spectators would have to come from the same household or Covid-19 bubble. The antigen testing system would work with appointments made via a mobile App.
Supporters would then be evenly spread across the stadium across four separate zones of 500 people. Seating will be on the basis of two metres social distancing between each pair with the wearing of face masks compulsory.
“Leinster Rugby has this morning announced the submission of detailed plans to Government for a proof of concept test event, to assess the use of rapid antigen testing as a solution for the safe return of spectators to matches at the RDS Arena,” a Leinster statement read.
“With matches in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup scheduled for the coming weeks, a trial match could take place as early as next month, May 2021.”
Leinster Rugby CEO, Mick Dawson said: “This initiative has the potential to be used as a blueprint by all sporting, cultural and community organisations for the safe return of limited crowds to their events.”
Since the resumption of professional sport in Ireland, 11 Leinster matches have been played behind closed doors at the RDS Arena, with no incidences of Covid-19 reported as a result of these games taking place.
“What we are offering the Government is a pilot test event that meets all the recommendations of the Rapid Testing Groups’ Report.
“This is an opportunity to show that matches with supporters are possible, under strict testing, supervision and management of course, and that there is a roadmap ahead that rugby and indeed all sports and events can follow.
“The lessons that we could all take from hosting such a trial match would be invaluable as the wider sports and entertainment industry looks to recover from the effects of the last 12 months and looks forward to a better and a brighter future when we can hope to resume some level of normality.
“At some stage we have to take those first steps, and we believe that we have a robust and safe plan in place that will allow us to do just that, and plan for the safe return of all supporters from the beginning of next season.”
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