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No crowds for Steamers pre-season game

There will be no crowds for the pre-season opener this weekend. File Image.

When the Steamers play Counties Manukau this Friday at Whakatane Rugby Park, the only spectators will be a few seagulls, a handful of BOPRU union staff delivering the event and the six ball boys and their minder from Opotiki Under 12’s.

The level two protocols for New Zealand Rugby Domestic competitions, of which pre-season games fall under, have a component of workplace health and safety wrapped around them.

Both the Mitre 10 Cup and the Farah Palmer Cup have been deemed workplaces and as a result they have a higher standard of compliance and risk minimisation associated with them.

The 100 mass gathering protocol which applies to both spectators and corporate hospitality packages is the most challenging aspect of all of the NZR level two protocols that all provincial unions and venues need to grapple with and create strong plans that ensure the safety of both the teams, the workers delivering the event and any spectators, if at all.

Pat Rae, Match Day Manager for all Bay of Plenty Rugby Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup matches comments, “deciding whether to allow crowds into this Friday’s pre-season match was a difficult decision to make, but one which ultimately safeguards the two teams and minimises their risk.”

“Counties Manukau have just spent two and a half weeks in level 3 lockdown with restricted travel and movements and I am doing everything that I can to ensure they can play a game of rugby in preparation for the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup, something they’ve not been able to do for 3 weeks, but also do it with as little risk as possible” says Rae.

This means that everyone that will be working at these events (staff, security, stadium personnel, Sky staff, caterers, match officials, media, ball persons) will have to undergo COVID-19 screening two days prior to the event and again as they sign in to the venues.

Because the venues will be designated workplaces for the duration of the matches, there’s no limit to the number of workers that will be engaged in delivering the event.

The higher standard of compliance and risk minimisation also effects all of the teams and their management involved in these two competitions. There is a whole raft of strategies that the teams and their management must now do in order keep safe. Daily health checks, face masks on planes and at airports and team buses travelling to and from airports, hotels and venues just to name a few.

These restrictions will be reviewed if we move down to level 1.

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