Leinster offer to host trial event to test safe return of spectators to sport

“What we are offering the Government” Leinster CEO Mick Dawson explained, “is a pilot test event that meets all the recommendations of the Rapid Testing Groups’ Report. 
Leinster offer to host trial event to test safe return of spectators to sport

COLM O’CONNOR

Leinster Rugby chiefs have submitted plans to Government to host a test event to assess the use of rapid antigen testing as a solution for the safe return of spectators to sport and other events.

The 52-page Covid-19 response plan - which has IRFU approval - is a direct response to the Government’s Rapid Testing Group’s recommendation to immediately implement antigen trial events, were submitted to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media on Friday.

“What we are offering the Government” Leinster CEO Mick Dawson explained, “is a pilot test event that meets all the recommendations of the Rapid Testing Groups’ Report.

"This is an opportunity to show that matches with supporters are possible, under strict testing, supervision and management of course, and that there is a roadmap ahead that rugby and indeed all sports and events can follow.

“The lessons that we could all take from hosting such a trial match would be invaluable as the wider sports and entertainment industry looks to recover from the effects of the last 12 months and looks forward to a better and a brighter future when we can hope to resume some level of normality."

With matches in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup scheduled for the coming weeks, a trial match could take place as early as next month, May 2021.

The plan includes:

  • Leinster Rugby would host a match where a pilot scheme for rapid antigen testing to detect COVID-19 would be trialled with a limited number of 2m socially distant spectators
  • Pre-match antigen testing would take place by appointment and would be on site at the RDS
  • The chosen rapid antigen testing system is EU approved and can successfully detect Covid-19 and all variants of concern
  • The antigen tests would complement existing Covid-19 guidelines already in place at the RDS Arena for staff and teams
  • Capacity for this proof of concept match at the RDS Arena will be capped at 2,000 spectators, just 11% of normal match-day capacity

Dawson continued: “This is an expertly researched project, which has been subject to robust scrutiny at every level, and we see it as a key contribution to the Government’s efforts to return our country to some form of normality.

“This initiative has the potential to be used as a blueprint by all sporting, cultural and community organisations for the safe return of limited crowds to their events.

“In October 2020, a combined working party from the FAI, GAA and the IRFU submitted proposals to the Department of Sport around the return of supporters to our grounds in a safe and Covid-19 compliant manner."

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