World Rugby study suggests removing scrums in bid to beat COVID-19


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Will O'Callaghan
Will O'Callaghan

21.11 25 May 2020


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A World Rugby study has suggested removing reset scrums and “upright face-to-face” tackles in a bid to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

It also calling for a mandatory change of jerseys and headgear at half-time and for spitting on the pitch to be outlawed.

The findings claim that doing away with scrums would lead to a 30 per cent fall in “high-transmission risk exposure time”.

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The report claims that 50 per cent of that high-risk exposure time from sweat or saliva occurs during scrum situations with props and locks the most at risk of transmission.

Props and locks are in close contact with opposition players for 13.4 minutes per game, with around 3.4 minutes of that time accumulated during scrums.

Other suggestions include players washing their hands in soapy water ahead of matches and for the match balls to be regularly sprayed with disinfectant.

It added that the removal of face-to-face tackling could “decrease the frequency of high-risk exposure events by 20 per cent”.

World Rugby’s executive committee are expected to meet in the next couple of days before publishing temporary law guidelines.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne revealed last Friday that they've submitted return to play and train protocols to the government and the resumption of sport expert group:

"We have been working assiduously, with a wide range of experts, in developing our ‘Return to Train and Play’ Protocols. These involved the IRFU’s medical team, external medical advisers, strength and conditioning experts, match staging experts, PRO14 and the Aviva Stadium team.

"Our documents are now with the Government and I would like to acknowledge the cooperation and support we have received from the Government and its agencies, in particular Sport Ireland and The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

"Based on these protocols, we have target dates of the 22nd and 23rd of August for a return to play with the staging of Guinness PRO14 derby fixtures between the provinces at the Aviva Stadium behind closed doors, as part of the completion of the Guinness PRO14 2019/20 season."

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