Rugby begins preparation phase for return of community game

The latest ‘Return to Rugby Requirements’ and Media Release received late this afternoon from NZR.

Rugby begins preparation phase for return of community game

Rugby clubs around the country can start a three-stage approach to getting back on the grass with training potentially beginning later this month.

Today’s announcement from New Zealand Rugby (NZR) follows the Government’s confirmation that community sport can resume with certain hygiene and distancing measures in place during COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

NZR’s comprehensive guidelines incorporating necessary hygiene and distancing measures for all levels of rugby (Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa is excluded) will be released on Thursday, 14 May. The guidelines are subject to change in accordance with Ministry of Health’s updated advice.

NZR Head of Participation Steve Lancaster said Rugby would take a measured approach introducing three distinct phases of preparation to ensure clubs were clear about the stringent health and safety protocols required to enable players, coaches and referees to lace up their boots for 2020.

“I know our rugby community is very keen to be back out on the grass, but we’re being very cautious. We must get it right, and get it right the first time. The health and safety of our community is paramount.

“We’re hopeful the 10 person per gathering rule will be increased on 25 May, and when it is, organised training can begin. In the meantime, we encourage participants to register for rugby and start preparing to return to training and playing.

NZR’s three stages of preparation (dates subject to change)

Special areas to note:

Phase 1 Prepare to Train From 14 – 25 May 

Rugby clubs work with their Provincial Unions to put procedures in place to ensure all necessary requirements can be met. These include hygiene protocols for people, venues and facilities, requirements for gatherings and contract tracing. No organised rugby training or match activity will occur during this phase. 

No Trainings until after the 25th of May.  As soon as we get the relevant guidelines and resources from NZR these will be forwarded to you.  A Staff Member from the Union will be assigned to your Club to assist with the rollout of the relevant procedures.  We will be in contact with your Club early next week to discuss the planned approach regarding this. In the meantime if you can let me know who the main Club contact will be regarding Covid-19 related matters, that would be much appreciated.

Phase 2 Prepare to Play (dates to be confirmed, subject to Government advice)

Teams begin pre-season training (including contact training) within NZR’s guidelines and recommendations. This is expected to be a four-week period from 25 May but will be confirmed following confirmation of the government’s requirements for gatherings. Pre-season matches may be played in the final week prior to Phase 3. 

NZR recommends Sporty’s iDMe online contract tracing system.

The Union will work with your Club on the recommended contact tracing system.

Phase 3 Play (dates to be confirmed, subject to Government advice)

If restrictions on mass gatherings are increased from 25 May, competition fixtures can begin from 20 June.

Provincial Unions can set competition start dates to suit the needs of their own communities.

As advised on Monday night, we have taken a more cautionary approach with the start of our Club Rugby being the 4th of July.

If any of you have any queries whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kindest regards

Bridget Belsham


Return to rugby requirements, contract tracing advice and return to training requirements can be found online at