From the intense Covid-19 personal health and family focus of the last few months, it now switches back to one of a ‘rugby training mode’ for both men and women across the rugby-globe.
Moving from the life-affecting changes to society and to the state of rugby worldwide was monumental for all. One which the Coronavirus pandemic created, to one now finding different forms of a return to the game, across the globe.
Yes, it is a strange situation. Going from restricted to being somewhat available, it will affect some differently to others. From anxiety to excitement, going from the household to the rugby field will be a test for all.
Men differently to women [as the game and sport have always applied]. That is in both the return to the game and, the importance placed upon it versus the responsibilities that family bring with it.
Going from Lockdown to ‘full on footy’
Professional or not, the fact women have family requirements different somewhat to men, sees a degree of their focus somewhat naturally altered. Mum’s find it harder to extend a full-focus on professional sport, let alone club or provincial footy.
Men have the same love for their family, love for the game yet, when the two are merged, they can devote to rugby training mode more easily.
Regionally, the return will be at different stages for professionals, clubs, and schools. Incorporated at different speeds. Yet, for men, women, and for boys and girls, in New Zealand and Australia, the focus now switches back to a rugby training mode.
Community rugby can recommence on June 20, with fully professional Super Rugby Aotearoa on June 13, the women’s Farah Palmer Cup on August 22, and the men’s Mitre 10 Cup on September 11. School participation will be managed by regionally but for all aspects of the sport, a full schedule may be restricted in draw/teams competing.
— Stuff.co.nz Sport (@NZStuffSport) May 13, 2020
That dramatic change has seen both sexes adjust from different stages of concern. From a health/family focus, the emphasis for each has had an affect that is both natural but, as much in terms of the professional side of a once amateur game. On both socio and an elemental factor.
Covid-19 health/family focus now switches back to rugby training mode
The scope of rugby union includes all genders and people at stages of the game. XVs to 7s, club and provincial, right up to the professional ranks of Super Rugby and the Premiership, the impact Covid-19 had forced a stop to play – and now eased, can reopen rugby training. Each affected, yet each realizing the impact in alternate forms. Affecting everyone in different ways, but simultaneously, now offering the chance to refocus back on footy.
Switching back to rugby training now may seem strange.
Besides the ample supply of hand sanitizer (see main photo) is just one ingredient. New protocols and contact tracing another new normal. The guidelines and advice will be much needed, to make players feel safe.
This is where organizations and many NGO (non-government organizations) offer support material, physical and mental programs, that are beneficial to athletes adapting to the recent massive upheaval to the sport. One that is an example is Sport New Zealand.
The Covid-19 resources package includes webinars and visual graphics that can be used individually and as groups. For amateur players, this is a critical tool. Provincial union information for clubs, and for both men and women can be easily sourced. Another site would be the Rugby Toolbox – a wealth of information and transferrable data/learning material.
Here, in fact, women could be at the forefront as they network better and can share amongst their own groups – to be on-shared to partners, friends, and rugby contacts.
National unions like New Zealand Rugby, also have support services and resources available free for individual use, or organizational employment.
Players and Coaches returning to Play
Several factors will be at the forefront for players and coaches returning to play. As well as how parents have had the emotional journey of such challenging times, and now with restrictions beginning to lift, have to manage their inclusion.
Physically, the lack of activity and the risks related to including contact training into men’s and women’s teams. Immediately crashing into a scrum machine and opposed training should be gradual – timed for the week/weeks just before competition returns.
Returning to play after prolonged training restrictions in collision sports https://t.co/yxg9Mznw07 @23Benjones @mattjcrossie @EliteSC7 @close_nutrition @Nicgill4 @Breathe_to_win @Andy_Kasper @drsimonkemp @SteveMellalieu Nick Peirce @fizziobob @BenjaminTWall @westy160991 pic.twitter.com/SFMUoUi5Uc
— Keith Stokes (@drkeithstokes) May 29, 2020
Balancing family, work, and sport has always been something that can influence participation. As much as when children play, parents and coaches have responsibilities. For mum’s and dad’s, it has similar demands – having a sitter during weekday training and/or, organizing a ‘kids creche’ to attend to the children during matches.
As New Zealand Black Ferns Sevens co-coach Allan Bunting stated, “the focus went from rugby to health and to family. We all made sure we did the right thing by our community and our country”. Doing right by your family when returning to the game, is now the challenge for sportspeople everywhere.
The above examples are influencing factors that can make the process of resuming play, less demanding. A pleasure naturally too, as all sport can be. Balance, time management, and personal levels of interest are all contributors to enjoyment. For rugby to be successful, each one must be respected and valued.
New Zealand Rugby’s phased reintroduction to community play can be examined here.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images