Clubs and schools will make a cautious and well-planned return to rugby, says the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union.
Bay of Plenty community rugby manager Pat Rae said when the country moved into alert level 2 at 11.59pm tonight , this did not mean that rugby teams from clubs and schools would start training tomorrow afternoon.
"They will be required to take a cautious and well-planned approach to return to both training, playing and opening their facilities, with the safety of everyone, the key to their decision making."
Rae said New Zealand Rugby had given the go-ahead for competitive games at the community level to start from Saturday June 13.
"This is fantastic news for all of our players who have been training in isolation for six weeks and wondering whether their hard work was ever going to be utilised."
In a statement, the union said it, in conjunction with various competition committees, would only kick off rugby at all levels of the community once all the clubs and schools had a chance to work their way through all of the safety criteria and requirements that the Ministry of Health had imposed on the sporting sector.
"These include having a strong contact tracing system in place, being able to control and track the number of people that attend their trainings, games and club rooms to a maximum of 100 people, as well as having stringent hygiene protocols for facilities, equipment and people in place," Rae said.
"All of these challenges being imposed on us are not insurmountable, but they do place considerable pressure and responsibility on our hard-working volunteers.
"To ease this pressure, Bay of Plenty Rugby aims to support our clubs through the planning process by providing some detailed templates and checklists that will guide their decision-making process."
Rae said given clubs and schools had to submit written Covid-19 safety plans before they could open, train and play, he wanted to make sure they didn't all have to invent their own wheels to achieve this.
Other challenges being worked through included the management of shared council facilities, change-rooms and fields as well as a potential winter and summer season window.
Rae said Sport BOP had been leading a piece of work where most sporting codes had been jointly designing what a winter and summer season window could look like and they were close to finalising this in conjunction with the region's six city and district councils.
"Our volunteer committees have done a fantastic job so far in working behind the scenes to ensure we are well placed to start training and playing when we reached the appropriate level.
"Things like competitions still need that elusive end date and that will come from a joint sporting code decision. Once that's known, our committees will be able to structure meaningful and appropriate competitions that reflect what the players want," Rae said.
"The message to all our players, coaches and supporters is simple; be patient. Rugby is coming, it's just around the corner.
"Some parents of junior players may be cautious and we acknowledge that. We suggest if families are anxious, they only return to the club when they are 100 per cent comfortable the environment is safe," Rae said.
Rae reminded everyone to follow the restrictions because the last thing we needed was an outbreak that may jeopardise the start of rugby being played.