Credit: Anthony Hayton Photography

Working Towards a Safe Return to Play

We will be publishing resources and key information on the dedicated Return to Play page

It was great to catch up with those who were part of the virtual DMG this week and hopefully you will be able to feed back to your members the update I gave on Return to Play (RTP). I was also pleased to be able to answer your questions, some of which prompted me to think about other areas we need to consider and be able to support you with, so thank you. I had hoped that in this blog I might be able to comment on the Government’s RTP guidance which we expected yesterday but it seems to have been delayed. Hopefully we will get that in the coming days and when I have more I will provide a further update. I thought it might be helpful though to focus here on a few points which we all need to be thinking about now.

Understanding Personal Risk

In considering when it will be safe and appropriate to RTP we all need to be cautious and work together to ensure we have done all we can to manage any risk to the health and wellbeing of everyone involved in getting our sport back in action. To achieve this we will want to understand what protective measures will be in place in training and competition venues, and we will want to risk assess and then put in place our own additional measures to meet the needs specific to our sport and to those who play and manage it. We intend to support clubs with the necessary guidance and protocols they will need to ensure RTP can be managed safely. But the most important consideration around RTP is the assessment of risk to each particular individual. We all know that the individual circumstances and impairments of our members vary considerably and so there can be no standard answer to when an individual can safely RTP wheelchair rugby. As such it will be for individuals themselves to take personal responsibility for when it is safe and appropriate for them to RTP, and individuals are strongly advised to seek the guidance of a medical practitioner in order to fully understand the particular risks associated with RTP for their individual conditions. When RTP becomes possible we will have a process in place whereby players and staff will be required to make a declaration that they fully understand the personal risks involved in RTP and that they opt in to RTP in the full knowledge of such risks. It is worth everyone thinking about this and making arrangements to have that conversation with their medical practitioner.

Invitations to Play in Europe

I am aware that in some European countries COVID restrictions may be easing more quickly than in the UK and that some of our members have been approached about playing in Europe. It is important that in all cases everyone follows the Government advice which at this point remains against all but essential travel. When this advice is reviewed and relaxed it will still be important to consider the wider issues around individual risk as described above. As an NGB we fully support the current Government advice not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and even when this advice is relaxed we believe it will be important for individuals to minimise travel until there is greater certainty that COVID-19 has been brought under control everywhere. As this is likely to be many months away it does not seem sensible for individuals to add to any risk by undertaking unnecessary travel.

It will also be important for individuals to experience a phased RTP which will allow the necessary time to get used to being back in sports chairs and undertake the conditioning and fitness training necessary to support the safe return to competition.

Outdoor Training

We have now received some interest from clubs who are exploring the possibility of undertaking some outdoor training. From 1 June the government permitted outdoor exercise for up to 6 people and we are currently working on some specific guidance to support those who have access to an appropriate outdoor space to train. The aim is to have that advice available next week. The points above in respect of understanding personal risk applies equally to all situations which includes any intent to take part in outdoor training.

Finally

Thank you to all of those clubs who have already sent the details of their club COVID lead. Can I remind those who have not that it would be helpful to have these by 21 June. Thank you.

David Pond, Chief Executive