Australia Set Dates For Return


The Brumbies are set to be the first Australian Super Rugby team to return to small group training as coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison released a three-stage plan for the easing of restrictions on Friday but left it to states and territories to announce their timelines for executing the plans.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) announced it would immediately scale back its restrictions in the wake of the national cabinet meeting, beginning from midnight Saturday.

Moving to the first stage of restrictions includes allowing gatherings of up to 10 people meaning that small groups of players and coaches can gather for sessions outdoors.

While they won’t be able to train as an entire squad, the group is planning to get back on the track on Monday, while adhering to the social distancing restrictions and gathering limitations.

Since the Super Rugby suspension just shy of two months ago, players have only been able to train in groups of five at most, with much of the period restricted to solo training or training in pairs and those you live with.

Australia’s Super Rugby players have been on active rest for the past fortnight and several Brumbies players have spent that time in their home states but the group will all be back in Canberra by Monday ready to return to work.

The Brumbies are planning to return to training on Monday under the relaxed restrictions and they will likely be the only one of the four Australian Super Rugby franchises to be able to return that early.

The Reds could be set to follow suit not long after with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palcaszczuk announcing plans to roll back isolation regulations from 11:59 pm on Friday, May 15.

Both New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria’s premiers have warned against quickly easing restrictions.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday he would not be announcing any changes until at least Monday while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said before Friday’s national cabinet meeting that there were no plans to make any changes to restrictions before the end of this weekend.

Those two states have had the largest outbreaks during the coronavirus pandemic and are taking a more cautious route when it comes to returning to regular life.

The Western Force, who is likely to be included in a domestic competition slated to kick off in July, have been permitted to train in groups of 10 for nearly 10 days.

Unlike the AFL, which has asked for all states to stick to the restrictions that apply to the most heavily affected states to create a “level playing field”, Rugby Australia is allowing teams to return to training according to state and federal government health advice.

Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke confirmed on Thursday that the hope was for a domestic Super Rugby competition to kick off as early as July 4, pending restrictions.

Interstate travel restrictions will be the key barrier in that and Queensland announced on Friday that they would not consider interstate travel changes until at least July 10 due to the cases in NSW and Victoria.

A date for the competition’s return is expected next week after Rugby Australia submitted its biosecurity plan earlier this week.