The RFU review and the independent compliance audit of Sale Sharks in relation to the events surrounding the Premiership Cup Final of 21 September 2020 have concluded.
It is accepted that most, if not all, of the Sale Sharks’ squad returned to their training ground at Carrington following the match. They were joined by members of the club who had been specifically PCR tested in order to attend. The nature of the event was to celebrate the cup final win and the passing of a long-serving staff member.
No evidence has been found to show that any player or member of club staff left the Carrington training ground and went to any other venue apart from their home.
Currently, there are no grounds for any charges, either under RFU Rule 5.12 or the Covid Disciplinary framework, against Sale Sharks or any individual associated with Sale Sharks in relation to events around the Premiership Cup Final.
The independent compliance audit of Sale Sharks was conducted by Healthwork Ltd, a specialist provider who advised on Covid compliance across sport. Recommendations were made which have been approved by the PGB for implementation ahead of the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season.
The recommendations to reduce risk and protect the welfare of players and staff include full compliance of the Covid Minimum Operating Standards with specific references to:
- Mandatory use of Rugby Squad medical app for the screening of all players and staff
- Prompt access to GPS Data for use in any required contact tracing process
- Full availability of training footage for use in any required contact tracing process
- A formal process for the notification of players who are impacted by positive Coivd tests
While identification of the source of the Covid outbreak is outside of the scope of the review and audit, it should be noted that neither Public Health England, Sale Sharks or the RFU have been able to confidently determine how Covid was first introduced into the environment. It occurred at a time when the local area was seeing a huge rise in the number of Covid cases within the community and it is thought most likely that the source of the infection was outside of the club environment.
RFU Medical Services Director Dr Simon Kemp said: “The minimum operating standards have been agreed to ensure that professional rugby has been able to return. While PCR testing is taking place on a weekly basis, it is critical not to forget the importance of maintaining social distancing, at all times when not training or playing. This, together with the wearing of masks and good hand hygiene will help both reduce the risk of transmission and the number of potential close contacts requiring to isolate should any positive cases arise."
Ahead of the new season PGB has agreed to appoint two new roles to support the delivery of Covid Minimum Operating Standards – one to oversee the video analysis element of contact tracing process and one to provide support for clubs around compliance with the minimum operating standards. These new roles will help to educate players and clubs and improve the contact tracing and outbreak investigation processes.
The original article can be found here.