RETURN TO PLAY SAFETY PLAN
Every member club must create a Return to Play Safety Plan and submit it to their LAU for approval prior to organizing training or competition events and to the member club’s local health officials for review. The local health officials approval is not required. The document should detail the member clubs’ plan to adhere to Regional Health Mandates, the USAR Return to Play Guidelines, and the protocols set forth in this document by the MWRFU. At a minimum the document should address:
- The name and contact information for the member club’s Compliance Coordinator.
- Pre-activity screenings, tracking and reporting.
- Safety protocols at training (at all USAR RTP Stages) and competition events.
When reviewing a member club’s plan, LAU Administrations should verify that the plan meets the guidelines and protocols of USAR, the MWRFU, and Regional Health Mandates to the best of their ability. The review should take no longer than five (5) business days and approval should be communicated to the member club via email and documented on the LAU’s specific tab on the Midwest COVID-19 Compliance Tracking Google Sheet.
LAU Administrators are considered “subject matter experts” for interpreting Regional Health Mandates for the member clubs in their regional jurisdiction. MWRFU Administration is available for assistance in determining how specific regions fit into the USAR RTP Stages, but ultimately local administrators will have a better understanding of the Regional Health Mandates for their area.
RTP STAGE DETERMINATION
On the “Regional Stages” tab of the Midwest COVID-19 Compliance Tracking Sheet, LAU Compliance Officers must document the different regions within their jurisdiction where member clubs reside. Then, a series of questions should be answered to assist the LAU in determining where a particular region lies in the USAR RTP Steps. This is not a perfect process, so judgements and interpretations may need to be made by LAU administrators and not member clubs. These determinations should be made by LAU’s no later than March 31, 2021 for the upcoming spring season. The LAU Compliance Officer should also document their contact email address on the Regional Stages tab for reference and continually monitor the changes in Regional Health Mandates to ensure the member clubs in their regional jurisdiction are operating in the proper USAR RTP Stage.
Each LAU is listed as a tab on the Midwest COVID-19 Compliance Tracking Sheet. An LAU Officer should ensure that each member club in their regional jurisdiction is listed on the sheet and their Compliance Coordinator email address is documented. They should also indicate that a member club’s Safety Plan has been received and approved.
OTHER MEMBER CLUB CONSIDERATIONS
Prior to participating in any training activities, as defined in the USAR RTP Guidelines, a player must be registered with USA Rugby as either a “Senior Player” or a “Senior Player (Training)” member. Registration can be done at usarugby.sportlomo.com. Registered players with the training class of membership may not participate in competition until their registration has been upgraded to the standard Senior Player designation.
NOTE: No club may permit a player to participate in a competition event that is not properly registered for their club, even if the match is friendly, non-league competition. This includes but is not limited to players from another club, unregistered players, or players with training memberships.
USAR recommends at least three (3) weeks of training prior to competing in match competition (on the following page) and conducts at least two (2) sessions of non-contact training, two (2) sessions of limited contact training, and two (2) sessions of intra-squad scrimmages prior to competing in inter-squad match play. To return to play safely, the MWRFU recommends that an individual player participates in at least one (1) training session at each step prior to being placed in an inter-squad situation.
Prior to any inter-squad match, every participant must sign a physical copy of the Midwest Covid-19 Waiver of Liability. These waivers should be maintained in either their physical form or scanned and stored electronically. For any training or competition events, Administrator Checklists should be completed and maintained physically or electronically. USAR and the MWRFU provide versions of acceptable checklists.
PRE-ACTIVITY SCREENING & TRACKING
All coaches and players must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a team activity, training, or competition. The MWRFU suggests that all member clubs design and implement a Google Form for respondents to complete a symptom questionnaire. The MWRFU has created a template of the updated World Rugby Symptom Checker. The template can be copied and modified for a member club and includes relevant health questions, a record of the respondent’s name, timestamp, and an attestation that the information provided is accurate.
NOTE: Do not modify the MWRFU’s original template form; create a copy of the form for your own club’s modification.
USAR recommends that symptom questionnaires be completed by coaches and players daily; however, the MWRFU requires symptom questionnaires to be completed at least twice per week for two weeks prior to being eligible for a competition event whether a team activity is attended or not. If a respondent answers yes to any of the questions, indicating that they are experiencing symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the previous ten (10) days, they should immediately self-quarantine and refrain from attending club events. The respondent should then seek out a COVID-19 test and not return until they’ve quarantined for seven (7) days with a negative test result or ten (10) days without a test. Persons awaiting test results should not return until they’ve received conclusive negative results.
NOTE: If a club member contracts a confirmed case of COVID-19, they must not attend any events until ten (10) days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least twenty-four (24) hours without fever reducing medication.
If the member clubs opt to follow the MWRFU’s suggestion in designing their symptom questionnaire via a Google Form, those results should be automatically logged in a Google Sheet. For club compliance tracking purposes, viewing permissions for that Google Sheet should then be provided to the member club’s LAU Compliance Officer and the MWRFU at email@example.com. The MWRFU provides a Navigation Statement with directions on how to configure this. Assuming every club member is completing the questionnaire prior to attending any event (which should be confirmed by the Club Compliance Coordinator) the club, the LAU, and the MWRFU should have access running attendance records for the club and a history of symptom tracking.
After a player has completed the symptom questionnaire and arrives at the event, their temperature should be taken and documented in the Google Sheet along with their response data. Event participants temperatures may not exceed 99.6 degrees and any participant whose temperature measures higher must leave immediately not participate in any activities. In addition to temperatures, member clubs may opt to track additional safety information (such as cleaning regimen) in their Google Sheet.
On a weekly basis, Club Compliance Coordinators must then record their club’s compliance by updating the Midwest COVID-19 Compliance Tracking Google Sheet. This document is publicly displayed on the MWRFU website. LAU Compliance Officers and the Midwest, through their viewing permissions provided by the member clubs, will verify compliance by periodically spot-checking all member club’s symptom questionnaire Google Sheets.
Any member club who is participating in training and competition events and fails to regularly update or misrepresent their compliance will be subject to Disciplinary Sanctions as deemed appropriate by the MWRFU, up to and including the revocation of sanctioning. This would prohibit a member club from being in good standing with the union and their ability to compete in league or friendly matches. If an LAU Administrator discovers a club member not tracking or misrepresenting their compliance, this should be reported to the Midwest Vice President of Discipline at firstname.lastname@example.org for immediate investigation and timely sanctioning.
COMPETITION PROTOCOLS & BEST PRACTICES
Throughout 2021, the MWRFU strongly recommends that member clubs schedule matches every-other-week. The MWRFU intends to generally follow this model for qualifying competition in the summer and fall as well. The hosting club must inform an opposition club as soon as possible of any potential COVID outbreaks or exposures. Only if there are no pending COVID-related issues, the host club should inform the opposition club and the Local Referee Organization (LRO) of their intent to play and the specific details of the match by end of business on the Tuesday preceding the match.
On the Friday immediately preceding the match, each club must exchange their game-day roster and monitoring information (Google Sheet) with the opposition and the appointed referee by 12:00 PM EST/ 11:00 AM CST. Failure to share this information should be reported to the LAU Compliance Officer and the match should be cancelled. Any expenses incurred should be the responsibility of the club that did not properly provide their compliance information. The match should not take place if either club cannot validate mitigation efforts against spread of the virus. If either club has potentially been exposed at any point leading up to the match, the game should not be played.
Regional Mask Mandates – some regions are considered in USAR RTP Stage 5 in that they are permitted to have contact and compete in inter-squad matches, but they must do so wearing masks. If two (2) clubs are operating under USAR RTP Stage 5 and are sanctioned to play inter-squad matches, the Regional Health Mandates for the location where the game is being hosted must be followed. Therefore, if a club from a region that requires masks during competition travels to play a match against a club in an area that does not require masks during competition, masks are not required. However, if a club from a region that does not require masks during competition travels to a club in an area that does require masks during competition, then makes are required during competition.
As previously stated, all match-day participants must complete a symptom questionnaire prior to arriving at the match. Once there, their temperatures should be taken and a process similar to what’s required for training events should be followed. Players not properly rostered, who have a temperature reading above 99.6 degrees, or who failed to properly complete the symptom questionnaire should not be permitted in the playing area and requested to leave the premises.
REMINDER: No club may permit a player to participate in a competition event that is not properly registered for their club, even if the match is friendly, non-league competition. This includes but is not limited to players from another club, unregistered players, or players with training memberships.
Once cleared to participate player members and coaches should utilize their own areas at the pitch. The USAR Technical Zones are sufficient in separating the sides and each team should strictly utilize their side of the pitch during warmups. Technical zones should be set up on the opposite side of the field of any spectators and spectators should be prohibited from watching the match from the club member side of the pitch. Physical barriers are recommended for separating players, spectators from players, and spectators from each other if possible. Once players have left the player area and joined the spectator group, they should not be permitted to rejoin the players for the duration of the match.
NOTE: All persons present at the field not actively participating in competition must wear PPE or a mask per Regional Health Mandates. This includes coaches, referees, substitute players, trainers, and any permitted spectators.
Players are strongly encouraged to wear masks for the duration of all pre-game activity including warm-ups. Players should avoid any unnecessary contact (high fives, group photos, etc.) and should not share communal water. Spectators should also be practicing social distances from others who are not in their immediate party. Public announcements and signage are encouraged at the competition site to ensure spectators understand the protocols in place at the match.
Communal equipment related to the match, particularly balls and goal post pads, should be sanitized as often as possible but at least during the half of the match.
DISCIPLINE SANCTIONS FOR NON-COMPLIANCE
Infractions should be reported to LAU Disciplinarians for escalation to the Midwest Discipline Committee if necessary. Imposed sanctions will follow traditional MWRFU Discipline policies and procedures. The following sanctions may be applied to member clubs who are found to be conducting activities out of compliance with MWRFU protocols. pending review of the severity of the non-compliance:
- First Offense: the member club in violation will receive a disciplinary sanction of minus two (-2) league points for the current or next immediate competitive league season.
- Second Offense: the member club in violation will receive a disciplinary sanction of minus five (-5) league points and forfeit eligibility for MWRFU and USAR playoffs and championships for the current or next immediate competitive league season.
- Third Offense: the team in violation will be sanctioned by the MWRFU Executive Committee up to and including the revocation of sanctioning. This would prohibit a member club from being in good standing with the union and their ability to compete in league or friendly matches.
- MWRFU Return to Play Handbook
- USAR Return to Play Guidelines
- MWRFU COVID-19 Compliance Tracking Sheet
- USAR – Sportslomo Registration Site
- Midwest COVID-19 Waiver of Liability
- Administrator Checklists
- MWRFU World Rugby Symptom Checker
- Pre-activity Screening/ Compliance Tracking Navigation Statement
- USAR Technical Zones