Social distancing and other covid-19 protocols followed as rugby team hopes the Varsity Cup tournament will go ahead after the pandemic forced its abandonment in 2020.

Wits Rugby has officially begun training for the Varsity Cup tournament that is scheduled for the beginning of March.

Rugby players had to self-isolate for five to seven days and were then tested for covid-19, in preparation before they could begin training on January 11. Further, the players have been split into training pods made up of five players to one coach.

Wits sports officer Ferdinand Kelly told Wits Vuvuzela, “Currently we are focusing on conditioning, skills and installing rugby specific principles within the pods system. We encourage and enforce sanitising of hands and equipment, wearing of masks and keeping social distance. We haven’t started contact training yet.”

According to Kelly, SA Rugby and federations have established a team that guides them through these processes, investigating the safest possible way for competitions such as the Varsity Cup to continue.

The return to training and rugby competitions nationally, comes after all Varsity Cup matches were indefinitely suspended at the onset of level five lockdown in March 2020.

Matt Mcdonald, who plays centre, told Wits Vuvuzela that it has been “sensational” being back with the team to share their passion for rugby. While noting that conditions have not been ideal, he said the team was trying to maintain similar dynamics as before, while being hyper-conscious about social distancing.

“So, the way that we gym in the mornings, usually the whole team is in there and we are all lifting weights together and it’s an absolute massive vibe … It’s a bit different now. You can only train with one partner, so in the morning gym session you have to stick with that partner, whereas in the past we all did everything together,” said Mcdonald.

The health of the players continues to be monitored on the Logbox Patient screening app that was introduced to the entire Wits community in June 2020. Kelly said that temperatures and symptoms of players were continually being monitored.

Health and safety measures are even more pertinent for Wits Rugby as they were hit by the death of one of their own, former Rugby Club manager, Ntsikelelo “Amigo” Ngcakana, as a result of covid-19 over the festive season.

“This pandemic is real. So many have been affected directly or indirectly by the virus. We stand with the greater university community. Families, friends and society at large…we remain vigilant and continue [the] fight to curb this pandemic,” Kelly concluded.

FEATURED IMAGE: FNB Wits Rugby players celebrating after a win against UJ in February 2020. Photo: File