Throughout the pandemic, NERFU has stated our intention to support state COVID allowances and restrictions. This season has already presented us with some challenges as COVID is ever present in our world still, and it will continue to present us with more risk than rugby already entails. In keeping with this notion, and in an effort to guide clubs through the rest of this Fall season as safely as possible, NERFU recommends a standard and transparent process around individual club’s and inter-club competitions’ communication and adherence to safe play guidelines. This initial framework will likely require edits and amendments as the season progresses. Please be patient and reach out with any questions.
First and foremost, NERFU defaults to the state COVID guidelines when dealing with “high risk” sports, proper sanitation, practice standards, contact tracing, and more. See below for links to each state’s guidelines for home and away matches.
Communication is of paramount importance to maximizing the safety and enjoyment of this competitive season. When exchanging match details via emails with opponents each week, please include the typical information (i.e. location, kick-off time, b side etc.) but also provide and/or ask for what their masking policies are, if numbers may be important due to decreased capacity at the social location, etc. Though state COVID guidelines are in place, NERFU also recognizes that restrictions may be more strict from city to city within the same state so local restrictions will be pertinent.
At this time, NERFU is not mandating vaccines for our membership. Clubs are not required to or expected to share team vaccination status, nor are they expected to test weekly, though they may if they choose.
What do we do if someone in our club has tested positive for COVID?
The CDC tells us a few things that apply for all states:
- Close contact is defined as being within 6ft of a known infected person for more than 15 minutes. Universal interpretation for simplicity is that anyone who has been to practice with an infected person is considered a close contact.
- The person who tests positive is most infectious 48 hours before symptoms are present. They need to tell all people they have been in close contact with immediately in order to contain the spread. While maintaining the person’s confidentiality, if in that 48 hour window they have been in contact with another club, it is required that the club be informed as well.
- Vaccinated people do not have to quarantine, just monitor for any symptoms.
- Unvaccinated people must quarantine, monitor for symptoms, and get tested 3-5 days after. If negative, they may return to normal activity. If positive, they should contact their health provider to get the next steps.
- A “cluster” is defined as 2 or more positive cases in the same cohort within 14 days. If this occurs in a club, they will have to postpone future matches until the spread is contained.
NERFU recommends cancellation of practice/team function following a positive case if the COVID positive member was present during any communal activities in the 48 hour period where they would be most contagious, to ensure that all close contacts have been informed and until there have been no further cases. Individual clubs may decide to impose additional safety precautions, at their own discretion.
In the event of a COVID infection, clubs have 3 options for handling the upcoming competition after lines of communication have been established. They may 1) play with personnel who are deemed able to play by state standards, 2) request rescheduling, or 3) forfeit. If the positive case occurs too late in the week to be able to make an informed decision and trace properly, requesting a reschedule or forfeiting will be required. Bye weeks can be used for rescheduling matches. Non-Saturday matches can also be viable with mutual agreement. Though not preferred, clubs also have the option to forfeit. If the case occurs early enough in the week for clubs to monitor players, clear state guidelines, and the infected player sits out that weekend, then a match can be played as scheduled. Other scenarios are possible, in which NERFU requests clubs communicate the nature of the event and options can be discussed with both clubs and the corresponding Division Director, to help mediate and make the safest decision possible for all parties involved.
Upon review, if incremental considerations are being requested of any person or program, please include the appropriate contact(s) of NERFU Division Director, and/or Executive Director of Clubs, and/or President to help support the fair and expeditious resolution of any matters.
If your club no longer feels comfortable participating in the competition at this stage due to safety concerns surrounding the pandemic, please reach out to your Division Director so that they may make the appropriate adjustments. Ultimately, our goal is the enablement of competition and growth of the sport within our region – and we fully advocate for as much safe and fair rugby as possible.