THE Republic of Ireland Billiards & Snooker Association have produced a roadmap for re-opening snooker and billiards in Ireland in conjunction with Sport Ireland and facilitate a safe and controlled re-opening of billiard and snooker events.
Jim Lacey, president of RIBSA, told Echo Sport that the safety of the players is their priority when the sport resumes.
“RIBSA have submitted this Playing Safe roadmap for the re-opening of snooker clubs.
"We have developed this set of protocols to advise clubs and players on how to re-open in a controlled and safe manner and we have also submitted a roadmap for the return to competitive snooker and billiards.
"Both documents will be reviewed by Sport Ireland and the Expert Group on the return to playing sport.
"However, clubs and players should be aware that each phase may evolve, accelerate or move backward depending on the public health situation therefore clubs and NGB’s will need to keep that at the back of their mind.”
To be fair players and clubs have been pretty patient in relation to hearing any news about a return to the game.
In the first instance, this roadmap places the health and safety of all stakeholders at the top of its priorities, everything else is secondary.
RIBSA believe it will allow for a safe and controlled return to playing snooker & billiards.
“With the help of the players, referees, TDs, club owners and staff and all the stakeholders we are confident that if these protocols are followed it can be the first step on the road to getting back to playing snooker and billiards as it should be, competitively and safely.
"In the initial month’s members will need to be aware of the limited basis in which they will have the opportunity to play.
"RIBSA and the clubs will seek to ensure members understand the necessity of the restrictions, to minimise the risk of a re-introduction of the lock-down measures.
"Members should also be aware that these restrictions are not going to last forever, but we must live within them and be patient while they are in place.”
To most people involved, Snooker & billiards is a passion that can only be satisfied by playing the game.
It makes up a huge part of their lives both socially and competitively.
Many others are involved in running clubs, some as volunteers and to some it is their livelihood.
Clubs especially commercially-run businesses will need a period of time to assess if re-opening is possible for them.
RIBSA are very aware that many clubs will find it financially difficult to re-open when the pandemic loosens its grip.
There is, however, one certainty, whatever happens, it will be different from what has been the norm up to now.
RIBSA proposes to put new protocols in place to meet the new challenges.
These protocols will be reviewed on an ongoing basis subject to advice.
Under the Government’s Roadmap, indoor sports will be permitted to reopen in Phase 3 starting June 29.
RIBSA propose to organise a national/regional tournament in August/September as a test run prior to running the 2020 National Championships before the end of the year most likely now November or December.
Jim Lacey continued by explaining the requirements to enter the event.
“A player must not have been out of the country in the 14 days prior to the start of the tournament.
"Not be in self-isolation and not required to cocoon and obviously must not be displaying any Covid-19 symptoms.
"Depending on the size of club and number of tables available, tournaments should have a max entry.
"For example, the Ivy Rooms has ten tables will be using five or six tables, so rounds can only have a maximum of ten or twelve players at one time.
"All entrants will be made aware of the new protocols prior to arriving at tournament.
"There will be new regulations which will be advertised on our website and social media platforms and displayed at tournament venues.
"All players must arrive dressed for play, changing in the venue will not be permitted and personal cues, rests and extensions will have to be sanitised before leaving home.
"I am asking players where possible to travel alone and again if possible I would ask that only one family member travel with junior players.
"Players will have to arrive 20 minutes prior to match time, not before, not after and report directly to the Tournament Director's desk.
"We insist that everyone observes social distancing and resist the temptation to mingle.”
As the National governing body has put together an excellent report to the Sport Ireland it is adamant that at the table the rules will be enforced at their strongest.
Tables will be allocated with social distancing in mind, every second table, and the players will be required to sit on designated seats where hand sanitiser will be available.
Players will be required to spot balls and call out the score when the opponent is at the table and each player will enter their own score on scoreboard.
Equipment including tables, balls and rests will be sanitised between matches and each player will use only one rest during matches.
After each match balls and rests to be returned to TD desk for sanitising and every player is required to remove everything they brought to the table.
Losing players will leave the venue as quickly as possible and any player or official not following these protocols will be removed from the tournament and asked to leave the venue.