The Wanganui Rugby Union has pounced immediately to set a starting date of July 4 for the restart of club rugby after the announcement of the step down to Covid-19 alert level 2.
The restart will be for premier grade and a senior competition, with that draw split into two pools based on locations – Pool A for town teams and Pool B for country sides.
Union chief executive Bridget Belsham said they had opted for the July 4 start in the hope that by that date there would be even fewer restrictions than at level 2 so that clubs could open their bars freely and generate much-needed income.
"The health and safety of our community continues to be the priority and we want to play it safe," Belsham said.
"We want to ensure our clubs are fully prepared to meet all of the health and safety guidelines imposed by the Ministry of Health and NZ Rugby. The union will be providing support and guidance around these requirements and is investigating the provision of hygiene packs to clubs to assist with meeting the relevant hygiene protocols.
"We want to ensure coaches and players have a good amount of time to prepare properly so that we have a competitive club rugby competition."
The July 4 start marked the beginning of a 10-week round robin competition with semifinals and finals on September 19.
Until then Belsham said the union was seeking further clarification of restrictions as the country moved down through the alert levels.
"A limit of 10 has been placed on gatherings to contain the risk present when larger groups congregate," Belsham said.
"Like many we tuned into Monday's press conference to understand the latest developments in what is a very fluid situation. New Zealand Rugby is now seeking clarification on the implication of that information and what that means for rugby.
"Until we can provide further clarity there is to be no non-contact or contact training. We are hopeful of receiving updated guidelines and protocols by early next week and these will be announced as soon as they are received by us," she said.
"We know there is a desire to get back to playing rugby as soon as possible and also the anxiety around returning too soon and the limitations at level 2 around after-match functions and spectator numbers. It was with this in mind we set the July 4 date."
NZR is also working on a number of resources, in consultation with provincial unions and Belsham said these would be sent out in due course.
A new draw has already been released and can be viewed on the union's Facebook and official website.