Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Rugby return in limbo

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2020 | 12:09 AM

Jamaica Rugby Football Union (JRFU) Chairman, Jerry Benzwick, says that because of the surge in local COVID-19 cases, his administration is uncertain about a return of the rugby union season in October.

Benzwick said plans were put in place for a restart of competition, as the COVID-19 cases began to decline in Jamaica.

However, with the current spike in cases, the JRFU will discuss the future of the sport for the 2020 to 2021 season.

“I have put off sending out any request to the Ministry of Sports because of the spike in COVID-19 cases, and I don’t foresee us playing at this time until there is some kind of handle on the situation where it looks more feasible,” Benzwick said.

“We’re going to have a board meeting this week to have a discussion about it, and after the board meeting, we will determine what our best course of action will be. Our club meeting is the following week and we will bring our findings or suggestions to the clubs, and see where the middle ground is, and we will go forward from there,” Benzwick added.

President of the ThunderCats Rugby Club, Anthony Johnson, said despite missing the sport, it would not be safe to return to playing rugby at this time.

“The Union has been holding monthly meetings and providing updates, but given the current state in the country, the restrictions by the authorities and those who have the knowledge and understands what is going on, we should follow the guidelines because it is not safe,” Johnson said.

“Prior to the latest outbreak, we were having weekly training sessions but when the COVID cases reached the untraceable level, we decided to suspend all group training,” he added.

Benzwick is encouraging players to remain active during this time even if matches are not being played.

“Even if we were to play a modified version of the game that doesn’t involve contact, just to keep the players active, we would have to reduce the number of players on the field,” Benzwick told The Gleaner.

“It is hard to stay away from rugby for so long and they (players) have been inactive since March but if training will take place, stay within the safety guidelines and restrictions by the Government, and keep groups within maybe 15 people maximum without contact,” Benzwick said.

He added that the JRFU will continue to ensure the safety of all stakeholders as World Rugby has introduced virtual courses for club members to become COVID-19 managers.

Athena Clarke