Following the government easing the regulations on reporting to work while relaxing curfew restrictions in all districts except for two, the likeliness of normalcy post COVID lockdown, will depend entirely on the how the disease is controlled in the country in the next few weeks.
The COVID19 outbreak that sparked in Sri Lanka in mid-March saw the government halt any possible forms of public gatherings which then saw the immediate suspension of the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2020.
With the uninterrupted curfew that was in place islandwide for over 7 weeks looking to be eased off, there is a shimmer of hope that sporting activities can also return in the future, including the Dialog Schools Rugby League.
It was earlier discussed that the schools were set to open in May but owing to the prevailing situation, the Minister of Sports and Education Dulas Alahapperuma is seeking advice from the Director General of Health in taking the above decision.
With the G. C. E. Advanced Level Examination set to be held in August as planned, this will rule out the possibility of the staging the league in June or July since there will a conflict arising with player training and academics.
Therefore, it is likely that the league can resume late September or early October if there is a development in the current conditions.
However, the organizers of the tournament, the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association(SLSRFA) will go by the advice of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and its guidelines.
If the G. C. E. Advanced Level examinations see a postponement, the league will also be likely shifted back and played after the conclusion of the examinations.
In the midst of recovering from an outbreak, the safe practices of social distancing will have to be followed if the league sees a restart.
World Rugby recently published guidelines to member unions with measures that need to be adhered to for games, particularly as rugby is a contact sport.
Some important guidelines include routine checks for all players on their health conditions before entering practices or grounds, proper sanitation methods, preventing the use of common water bottles and halting the use of showers in the changing rooms. (The full guideline can be accessed here: https://playerwelfare.worldrugby.org/)
The league was on its second week and only 9 games in the first round of the ‘A’ division had been played when the island wide curfew took effect.
Fast-forward two months, there has been no rugby activity and in a possible resumption, many of the top tier coaches have requested for a 1 month preparation period in the run-up to the league.
“We will require at least a month’s preparation since the players have been at home, they need to get back on the field. Our boys have been doing their training at home but we will need to get to playing level” added Rajeev Perera who is current assistant coach at St. Peter’s College.
In the build-up to a possible resumption, there will be many factors that will need to be taken into consideration in terms of venues, sanitization and the decision to play behind closed doors or not but right now, the organizers will await till the ban on public gatherings is lifted to proceed.