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COVID-19 Return to Play Safety Plan

Updated: 01/26/2021

Compliance Officers will be responsible for ensuring safety compliance for all sides that are incorporated into a team. Each Compliance Officer may designate agents to complete tasks related to safety compliance and will report directly to the club’s Executive Committee. The Pittsburgh Forge has appointed the following individuals to serve as Compliance Officers for their respective sides:

Forge Men – Kyle Franklin, Director of Men’s Rugby
Forge Women – Bobbie Kolarik, Director of Women’s Rugby

The club is relying on guidance provided by USA Rugby (USAR), the Midwest Rugby Football Union (MWRFU), the Allegheny Rugby Union (ARU), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Pennsylvania Health Department (PAHD), and the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) in making determinations as to whether it is safe to train and compete. 

Once the club has resolved that Allegheny County’s reopening equates to USAR Stage 5 and programming is planned, players will be emailed detailed information explaining the inherent risks and symptoms of COVID-19 and how participating in rugby may increase one’s likelihood for contracting the virus. Included in this email will also be the detailed instructions on the responsibilities of each player and coach wishing to participate in rugby programming. This information, along with this plan, will also be published on the club’s official website. Players and coaches will be asked to attest that they understand the risk of participating in rugby activities if not vaccinated for COVID-19. Prior to attending a sanctioned club training or competition event, all participants will be required to sign a waiver of liability for both the club and the MWRFU. Waivers will be retained on file by the club Secretary either on paper or electronically. 

Before leaving their residence to attend a sanctioned club event, each player must complete the World Rugby Symptom Survey (electronic) and attest that the information they are providing is accurate. This form will be developed using the Google Forms template provided by the MWRFU and the results of each form survey will be retained in a Google Sheet. When the player arrives at training, they must report to their side’s Compliance Officer (or their designee) to confirm their completion of that day’s symptom checker and have their temperature taken. Players who did not complete the symptom checker or who report a temperature greater than 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted to train that day and should immediately vacate the premises. There are no exceptions. 

Player temperatures will be taken using a contactless temporal thermometer that will be sanitized between each use. Player temperatures will be documented in the same Google Sheet with the symptom tracker results. This will allow event rosters, with symptom results, and temperatures to be retained in the same place for easy verification and contact tracing. Viewing permissions for this sheet will be provided to the ARU Compliance Officer.

Additional disinfectant wipes will be maintained with equipment such as balls, cones, and ruck shields to allow coaches, managers, and/or administrators to wipe down equipment before and after use. Wiping down of equipment will also be encouraged during training in between uses when possible. 

The coaching staff will make their best efforts to limit contact during training sessions. When contact is required, players will be separated into smaller working groups (or pods) for contact work. Additionally, players will be required to refrain from unnecessary body contact, spitting, and sharing of any equipment, especially water bottles. Players and coaches will be asked to maintain social distance and wear masks as much as possible. 

Finally, in order to limit the amount of people at a single training event, the men and women’s sides will be scheduled to train on separate days or at separate locations. If required, the men’s side may need to stagger training events per side to prevent too large of a gathering and to assist in maintaining social distance. This will be determined by club administration on an as needed basis. 

If at any point, a player or coach believes they may have been exposed to the virus, they may not return to training or competition until they’ve self-quarantined for ten (10) days and are not exhibiting symptoms. If a player or coach tests positive for the virus or wants to return prior to the 10-day self-quarantine, they must achieve two (2) negative test results at least forty-eight (48) hours apart before being permitted to return.

Matches will be scheduled at least two-weeks apart. This could protect against the spread or threat of cancellation if virus flare ups occur. 

In order to participate in competition, the club must be training for at least three (3) weeks per USAR RTP guidelines. A player must attend at least two (2) training sessions during the immediate two (2) weeks prior to the competition in order to participate. This allows for a symptom tracking history prior to a game. Immediately prior to a competition, all players and coaches must complete the same steps they would prior to a training. Symptom checker completion and temperature checks will be completed by the side’s Compliance Officer or their designee. Additionally, Midwest waivers are required to be signed prior to each competition. 

Only required personnel (players, coaches, medical staff, referees) will be permitted at home games and will travel to away games. Spectators that attend at public spaces will be asked to sit away from the pitch, sidelines, and from other spectators not in their household. Home games featuring multiple sides may have staggered kickoff times to prevent large gatherings during game transitions. Carpooling will be discouraged for players who do not reside in the same residence. Equipment (including goal post pads) will be cleaned and sanitized in the same manner that’s done for training. 

At home games, the Forge will require the opposition club to display their compliance with Midwest RTP protocols, including providing a roster with tracked symptom checking for at least two (2) weeks. The club will also require the visiting side to sign MWRFU waivers of liability. Signs will be displayed around the playing area reminding players of social distancing, refraining from unnecessary physical contact and spitting. No personal equipment, such as clothing or water bottles, will be shared between players. 

Any player or club member found to be in violation of these protocols will be subject to club and/or side penalties up to and including expulsion from the organization.

Click Here for Participation Waiver

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