Rugby Australia have issued a directive to premier clubs in their respective States that top rugby players will be ineligible to represented lower-grade clubs ahead of their local revamped Super Rugby competition.
The players usually turn out for home districts and other lower tier clubs to help them gain match fitness if they are not selected by Super Rugby teams but according to the latest guideline from the Australian board, they will not be able to do so during the upcoming competition that will be played between July and September.
“The collective decision has been made by Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams in accordance with agreed bio-security measures which have been signed off by the various Government health agencies,” Rugby Australia said in a statement on Friday.
“It has been agreed by teams that this practice in the current environment, where we are still seeing some evidence of community spread, would significantly compromise the team environment and possibly the competition.”
The contracted players have been directed to train in their respective Super Rugby environments in the short-term and meet government guidelines to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 transmission.
“Given the current restrictions facing professional and community sport as a whole and our desire to have professional rugby return and thrive in a domestic format, we must take the necessary strict action to mitigate the risk of both infection and transmission of the virus within any of our professional environments, despite there being a very strong and understandable desire for players to play club rugby where possible," said Rugby Australia Head of Professional Rugby Services Ben Whitaker.
“This has been specifically addressed within our Return To Play plan and players and coaches have been informed of the decision.
"The Committee will regularly re-assess the status of this player welfare directive and remain agile to align the availability of professional players with the measures in place to mitigate the risk profile of COVID-19 in community training environments.”
The domestic competition of Australia is planning to kick-off on 3rd July with discussions on commercial and broadcasting partners taking place currently.