Rugby’s return to action won’t be blighted by the vaccination row which has hit the NRL.
But don’t expect to see your favourite All Black socialising wildly when bars open next week.
While there will be no hard and fast rules around getting the flu vaccination, New Zealand’s Super Rugby players will face tougher Covid-19 bubble restrictions than the general population.
New Zealand Rugby’s acting medical advisor Deb Robinson also said that the national Super Rugby competition which starts mid-June would not be halted by a positive test among the players.
The NRL is wrestling with the vaccination issue, after some players refused to get a jab. The matter is further complicated by different state guidelines in Australia.
Robinson, the former All Black doctor, said NZR was recommending the players and management get a vaccination.
One of the reasons is the importance of keeping everyone healthy – any sort of illness required testing and isolation.
“Our recommendation is that players and management get the vaccination but it is a personal choice and it is important they have informed consent,” she said.
“Sometimes people’s reluctance dates back to the idea they could get flu from it … [the aim is] to get as many players and management vaccinated as possible.”
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When asked what the ramifications were should a player test positive, Robinson said: “It is very situation-dependent, who it is, how they present, how many close contacts they’ve had, where they are, what part of the week, how many days they might have been in contact with people.
“I don’t think it will stymie the whole competition … of course the Ministry of Health and public health units would essentially look after all the contact tracing.
“If we were to get a positive test the system would work really well for us … that’s not to say we wouldn’t get a hiccup but I don’t think it would stop the competition.
“We’ve asked the players to keep their personal bubbles smaller than what they would necessarily have done so in level 2 because that also decreases the risk of what comes into the environment. So we are holding them to slightly higher standards than the general public.”
As for community rugby, Robinson said it could restart using small units in training, but no crowds were allowed.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said rugby wanted to provide “leadership, hope and inspiration” for New Zealanders.
The NRL restart has been hit by player problems, most notably the close quarters partying antics of poster boy Nathan Cleary.
Mark Robinson said: “We want to do New Zealand proud – people around the world are following our lead.
“It’s critical we do it well.”
Mark Robinson said a trophy had not yet been created for the New Zealand Super Rugby competition.
NZR was committed to the women’s game but he could not give a timeline for a restart. It also wanted to get everything in order for hosting next year’s World Cup.
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