UPDATE: Event attendees urged to self-isolate after Sydney Uni player tests positive for coronavirus

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

UPDATE: Anyone who attended a function at Sydney University football club after Saturday's Australian Club Championship is being urged to self-isolate for 14 days.

A Sydney University player who featured in the game tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and anyone considered a "close contact" of the player would be required to do this.

Initially Sydney Uni's opponents the University of Queensland were told by NSW Health that they were considered merely casual contacts from their interactions in the game.

A close contact is deemed as someone who has spent 15 minutes face-to-face or more been in the same closed space as someone who is infectious for more than two hours.

NSW chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant said in a public update on Thursday morning that anyone who attended a post-match event on Saturday night would be considered "close contacts".

The event was helf at the Sydney University Football Ground from 7:30pm until 10:30pm but it is unclear how many people attended.

“All people who attended this event are considered close contacts of a confirmed case and we ask that any attendees immediately self-isolate themselves for 14 days, so that will be until midnight of Saturday 28 March and should anyone develop symptoms, please contact the public health units on the appropriate numbers,” Dr Chant said.

“There is guidance on our website in relation to what you need to do to self-isolate yourself, but please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further details. We will continue to make efforts to contact people directly, but we are making it a public announcement in relation to the need to self-isolate.”

The player began showing symptoms on Sunday and was confirmed as a positive case on Wednesday afternoon.


Australia's rugby community was given a reminder of the need to be vigilant around coronavirus after news a club player tested positive for the virus.

It emerged on Wednesday afternoon that a Sydney Uni player who featured in last weekend's Australian Club Championship has contracted the disease, putting teammates, opponents and spectators on alert.

Australia’s Super Rugby sides are the only rugby teams currently cleared to train in Australia, with Super W, academy and all club and community games and training suspended until the state of May.

No Super Rugby players have tested positive for the disease but a NSW Super W player and two Sevens players have been tested in the past week and returned negative results.

The player began showing symptoms on Sunday, the day after the match and anyone considered a “close contact” would need to self-isolate for two weeks

A close contact is deemed as someone who has spent 15 minutes face-to-face or more been in the same closed space as someone who is infectious for more than two hours.

Sydney University released a statement on Wednesday afternoon confirming the news.

“SUFC regrets to inform our community that we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within our playing group,”the statement read.

“As the player was symptomatic on Sunday, NSW Health are advising anyone who had close contact on Saturday is of concern.

“Everyone determined to be a close contact of the case will be contacted by NSW Health and will need to self-quarantine for 14 days (until midnight 28th March).

Sydney University’s opponents on Saturday, University of Queensland, have been contacted by NSW Health but are considered only “casual contacts”.

That categorisation means they need to be monitoring their health in the coming weeks but there are no moves for anyone involved with that team to self-isolate.

No Super Rugby players were involved in the Club Championship game on the weekend, having been withdrawn from selection due to fears over the spread of the virus.

Across the ditch, the Crusaders and Chiefs joined the Highlanders in self-isolation after New Zealand introduced stricter requirements on Wednesday.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said on Tuesday that one positive test could spell the end of any competition proposed to replace Super Rugby.

The Waratahs returned to the training track on Wednesday , implementing daily temperature checks for players and asking all non-high performance staff to work from home.

Asisstant coach Chris Whitaker said that would be the same with training for NSW who are doing everything they can to try and avoid that possibility.

“That's what we're trying to avoid,” he said.

“If a player gets coronavirus and they come into work, the simple answer is there is no training.”


For now, Whitaker said, the ability to train was giving players somewhat of a mental relief from the crisis.

“It's a bit of a break to the whole coronavirus thing,” he said.

“The issue is bigger than rugby but I think they're disappointed in how we've gone and they're super keen to get into rugby.

“At the same time, they've got families to worry about as well. We've had a RUPA representative come and talk to us, so we have someone to talk to if they're feeling anxious or they're not happy.

“What we don't want to do is put people in a position where they're uncomfortable.”

The Waratahs are using the time to try and rectify a dismal start to the year, that culminated in a 47-14 loss to the Brumbies last weekend.

“We're just concentrating on us. I suppose just wait and see what happens with other stuff and we get a game, when we know about our first game, we can train for that,” he said.

“Until that date comes out, we'll be planning what we're doing but at the moment, it's just a really good opportunity to concentrate on us.”