Rob Baxter insists players across Premiership Rugby, including his own at Exeter Chiefs, will be given the best medical provisions as they look to return to training next month.
Director of Rugby Baxter believes restarting training for a return to top-flight action during the current coronavirus outbreak can be done safely - and that implementing the guidelines laid out in the government’s white papers are not as hard as some people think.
Speaking on BBC Radio Devon, Baxter said: “There are challenges currently, but I think the big thing from me - and it’s something I’m a little disappointed about when I hear other coaches and some players talk about the subject - we seem to be finding all the reasons not to play, when actually if you look at what the country is trying to do, especially through the measures they are trying to set out for these next two or three weeks, here the country is looking at ways to get back to some kind of level of normality.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to try and brush over the tragedies that have happened or the awful things that have during the outbreak, but as we all try and take some responsibility and try and get back to some kind of normality, I think we have to look at the positives that are around rugby.
“The level of safety we have to ensure, even in a regular environment, is huge. We have expertise within our medical staff to stop the spread of viruses. I know Covid-19 is very different, but stopping its spread is very much the same as stopping the spread of any virus through a team. We know what we’re doing.
“These days in professional sport, including professional rugby, the amount of dedicated, professional medical personnel that are involved is huge. Here at Exeter, Adrian Harris heads up our medical side, but at the same time he’s also heading up things at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, so this is not a guy who doesn’t know what he is doing.”
Baxter continued: “As I said, all the clubs in the Premiership have to have a lot of medical provisions in place just for training sessions to even take place. The medical provisions of what we will provide straight away in terms of Stage One training, which will be small groups of players doing socially distanced running sessions, will be a lot more safer than anything else the players are doing, other than staying at home.
“If anything, we’re creating a safer environment for players and staff than in everyday life. “It’s far, far safer than going to the supermarket, where you’re touching things other people may have picked up and put back, and where people often break the two-metre rule.”
Currently, none of the 12 Premiership clubs can return to training until June 8 at the earliest, but confirmation earliest this week from the government that agreed elite combat and team sports now have permission to resume full-contact training for the first time since the outbreak is a hugely encouraging sign in terms of a return to seeing competitive action.