Professional rugby in Ireland is officially COVID-19 free after the second round of IRFU testing produced ‘zero positive results’. The union tested a further 118 players and staff this week at Ulster and Connacht, following a clean bill of health for Leinster and Munster last week.

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An IRFU statement reads: “The IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) can confirm that the PCR testing of players and staff at Connacht and Ulster produced zero positive results. 118 players and staff were tested on Wednesday 24th June in Connacht and Ulster.

“The PCR testing was carried out by Cork based company Advanced Medical Services on behalf of the IRFU.

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“The staff and players have been cleared to access their respective High Performance Centres from Monday 29th June.

“From the 29th June all four provincial senior squads will be back training in modified groups.

“To date there have been 258 tests conducted across the professional player and staff group and zero positive tests reported.

“IRFU Medical Director Rod McLoughlin commented, “The first phase of PCR testing has been successfully completed. The players and staff now enter a period of daily medical screening and assessment. The second phase of testing will take place as players return to contact.”

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During PCR Testing, a swab test removes a sample from a person’s nose or throat. This sample is examined at a molecular level using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to identify the presence of COVID19. The turnaround time is two to four days and the same process is being used by the League of Ireland, Premier League, English Football League, Bundesliga, La Liga, NZ Rugby and the NRL.

“The PCR testing ahead of the return to the High Performance Centres is an important element of our Return to Training Protocols. All players, coaches and support staff will be tested before being permitted to enter their respective HPCs.

“They will also receive COVID19 education from our medical staff as well as education on the new protocols that have been put in place at each HPC to create a controlled working environment that greatly limits the risk of infection.

“The IRFU is coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the COVID19 protocols across our five designated High Performance Centres. We will be working closely with the HPC COVID Managers to support them in the roll-out of the protocols.”

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