After a year hiatus because of Covid-19, SA rugby has given the green light for club and school rugby to resume.
With player safety being a priority, teams can return to full contact training with strict Covid-19 protocols observed.
Club rugby coaches have expressed joy at the decision to allow them back on the pitch with the last rugby season having ended in 2019.
Union-Milnerton (Uni-Mil) head coach Isma-eel Dollie says they have gone too long without playing rugby and even though this was understood because of the Covid-19 pandemic, for rugby lovers it still was a bitter pill to swallow.
There is no definitive date yet as to when competitive matches will resume but club rugby teams are now allowed to have full contact training, granted they follow all the necessary safety measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus.
Dollie says at Uni-Mil they have been able to provide the necessary equipment to ensure the safety of the players but there is still fear as players live with their families and don’t want to take the virus home.
“We have been keeping our players fit and offering home training but doing that was a bit difficult.
“Even though there are other people who are still fearful the majority really welcomes the decision to allow us back to the field.
“Obviously we still have to do a lot of work to ensure everyone is safe, we can’t just jump right at it and pretend there is no virus,” said Dolly.
He said another difficulty is that club rugby is a social event but no families will be allowed as spectators as they have to keep the group of players as small as possible.
Coach at Hamilton, Adrian Kaye said the news of the return is very welcome.
“The joy on the kids faces and the energy of competing is second to none. The kids have missed out on so much during the lockdown.
“It’s a magical feeling to be back on the field. Nobody takes rugby for granted anymore,” said Kaye.
He said players are eager to get back to competitive rugby.
Violets RFC players, coaches and management formally returned to training on March 9.
Coach Riaaz Khan says the club is committed to following the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) return to play eight-week programme where teams follow different training methods that are in line with Covid-19 safety protocols.
“After more than a year without rugby we are all eager to get back into the full swing of things, albeit under the watchful eye of our appointed Covid officer and following all the necessary protocols.
“The pandemic cannot be taken for granted and even though we are eager to kick-start the rugby season we have to be mindful of not propagating another Covid wave.
“The health and welfare of our members and associated communities are of utmost importance and will take preference so as to avoid another shutdown which could have dire economic consequences,” said Khan.
He said players are excited to get back onto the park as it will also allow them to increase their fitness levels and health which might have suffered under the lockdown.
“As an outlet to social ills which currently plague our communities, rugby also offers respite and an opportunity to feel as if we are turning the corner and becoming a “normal” society again.”