Covid 19 (Coronavirus) FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Why aren’t players isolated in a bubble as NRL players are?

Australia is very different to the UK, both in terms of government requirements and the financial resources available to support such stringent measures. And even though the financial compensations for players are greater Down Under, the measures are severely restrictive and protocols have occasionally been breached.   

Players are the game’s greatest assets, and we are already asking them to make enormous sacrifices in order to complete the 2020 season – sacrifices which go beyond the laws and government guidance that most people are subject to.   

What guidance and protocols have clubs and players been given?

As a minimum, individuals are expected to observe the law and relevant government guidance. Avoiding breaches, and maintaining biosecurity at training venues and matchday venues, is for the wellbeing of all and to ensure that the game can continue. 

Additional RFL protocols are also in place and were shared with clubs prior to the season restart. For example, nobody can attend any training session without having first completed both a medical questionnaire and screening protocol to detect any symptoms of Covid-19.  

Our emphasis has been on player education and collective buy-in. Clubs have been encouraged to agree and enforce their own codes of conduct with their employees, and each club has a Covid Officer and a Covid Medical Officer on hand to educate, support and share information with players and staff.  

We are grateful to the vast majority of players and other staff for their responsible and disciplined approach.  

What sanctions are in place to deter breaches of protocol?

Whilst protocols have in the main been observed, sanctions are also in place to deter breaches.    

The standard punishment for breaches outside of training and matches will be a 14-day ban from all Rugby League activity – including training as well as matches. Fines may also to be imposed. 

The 14-day period is consistent with the self-isolation period required following close contact with a person who had tested positive for Covid-19. 

The ultimate sanctions are the serious repercussions breaches of protocols could have for the sport.   

Why were players who broke COVID-19 protocols allowed to play?

Clubs agreed that any bans should begin from the date of the transgression – not from the date when a sanction is actually imposed. If a breach of protocol only comes to light 14 or more days later, then punishments will not be imposed retrospectively.   

However, it is still important in principle, and for the sake of consistency, to formally determine breaches of protocol and send out the right message.  Clubs themselves also have the option to stand players down for breach of their codes of conducts and standards. 

Are any other sports experiencing positive tests?

Yes. Positive tests continue to be recorded across many professional sports including football, tennis, cricket, rugby union, motor racing and cycling.    

Rugby League is a contact sport. What difference does scrapping scrums make?

Rugby League has been allowed to restart on the basis that risk must be minimised as far as possible. Every aspect of the game has been assessed for risk and graded low, medium or high. The scrum was identified as one high risk area that could be suspended to considerably reduce the risk of the virus spreading between players.  

Why can’t players celebrate?

Rugby League has been allowed to restart on the basis that risk must be minimised as far as possible. Every aspect of the game has been assessed for risk and graded low, medium or high.  

The aim is to limit the number of high-risk ‘close contacts’. Any non-essential activity is discouraged.  

How does Covid-19 testing work?

Any individual who attends the 'red zone' must have a valid negative test within seven days to ensure they remain within the testing pool. Players and officials from each club, along with match officials and other key matchday staff, undergo weekly antigen testing. 

Tests are carried out each week by Screen4, the preferred testing partner for Betfred Super League clubs. 

Shouldn’t we be testing more often than once per week?

The testing regime is in line with government guidance and other sports, including Premier League football.  

Weekly testing allows time to deal with any inconclusive results and to adjust fixtures where necessary.  

Testing indicates the presence of the virus on the day of the test, just as an MOT certificate indicates a car’s roadworthiness only on the day of the test. Covid testing can help reduce transmission and entry of the virus to the sporting environment, but is not a guarantee. 

When somebody tests positive

t depends on the level of contact that person has with colleagues and/or opponents.  

Anybody testing positive must isolate for 10 days.    

The ‘track and trace’ system uses GPS software, footage from matches and analysis of training to identify anybody who has experienced what is classified as ‘close contact’ with the person who has tested positive.  

Anybody identified as having ‘close contact’ must self-isolate for 14 days. This is because the virus has a potential incubation period of up to 14 days.  

Where someone has a close contact away from the sporting environment, this too may also trigger a 14 day isolation period.   

How does the track and trace model work?

Every training session and every game is subject to robust track and trace assessments.  

The ‘track and trace’ system uses GPS software, footage from matches and analysis of training to identify anybody who has experienced what is classified as ‘close contact’ with the person who has tested positive.  

Anybody testing positive must isolate for 10 days.    

Anybody identified as having ‘close contact’ must self-isolate for 14 days. This is because the virus has a potential incubation period of up to 14 days.  

How does playing all the games at a single venue reduce the risk of transmission?

The RFL’s Clinical Advisory Group has determined that only a small number of venues currently meet strict government expectations. Until directives change, Super League fixtures will continue to take place behind closed doors at a small number of neutral venues.  

Strict cleaning protocols are enforced at each venue between matches and the use of 'zones' and PPE act as mitigation. 

Why are Catalans now allowed to play their home games at home while others remain in one venue?

Only a small number of venues currently meet strict UK government expectations. Until directives change, most Super League fixtures will continue to take place behind closed doors at neutral venues.  

The situation is different in France, where Catalans Dragons are now permitted by the French government to host home fixtures with spectators present.