The National Rugby League (NRL) has introduced changes to its match day protocols and procedures based on the advice of health officials regarding COVID-19.
The changes are designed to protect the health and safety of players and fans and will mean a reduced level of interaction both pre-match and post-match. While health authorities have advised there is no current risk to people attending mass gatherings, the NRL has provided clubs with a set of guidelines to help reduce the potential spread of the virus.
Among the changes which will be effective from Round One, beginning tonight (March 12):
- Players have been advised to minimise contact with the public and non-essential personnel. This includes limiting physical contact with supporters at venues;
- Players are advised to avoid handshakes, autographs and selfies to limit the risk of infection;
- Clubs restricting dressing room access to include only players and essential staff;
- Clubs taking reasonable steps to limit club-organised player contact with community organisations;
- Clubs and players taking additional steps to ensure enhanced hygiene at training and playing facilities.
“Our priority is to protect the health and safety of our players and fans,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.
“We have listened to the experts and are following their advice. While we need to be calm and sensible, we also need to be practical and proactive. We are doing everything practical to minimise the risks for everyone.”
The guidelines have been shaped following recommendations by the Department of Health and regular consultation with medical experts.
Mr Greenberg said the NRL would continue to be guided by the advice of Federal and State health authorities and will accept any recommendations they provide.
“If we need to change some things, we will do that. We have established an internal working group which will continue to liaise daily with health authorities and clubs to ensure we are as informed as possible and prepared to act if required,” Mr Greenberg said.