The 167 people needed to stage a rugby match with no crowd

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rugby's return without crowds would see 167 people involved in the staging of matches, a new World Rugby return to play document suggests.

World Rugby released its framework for rugby's return to play, written by chief medical officer Eanna Falvey, former CMO Martin Raftery, Welsh Rugby Union's Prav Mathema an independent physician Professor May Horgan recommending safety considerations for every stage of government restrictions and outlining the practical elements of a return to play.

Daily screenings, temperature checks and the assignment of one coach to the same group of players for each session are among the recommendations tabled by the report.

The document states that "large traditional crowds" would be unlikely without a COVID-19 vaccine but that will also depend on public health policies developed around the world.

World Rugby listed the minimum 167 people that would be required to stage a match even without crowds, a situation that appears most realistic as countries prepare for the return to sports.

Other suggestions in the document include asking players to travel in separate cars for games where travel is required and where a hotel stay is needed, that teams try to stay on one floor of their accommodation.

When broader travel is allowed, have departing teams kept in a separate holding room before travelling to away games.

More generally, the document details 10 "rules of engagement" for the management of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Part of those rules include requiring coaches, players and staff to complete a daily questionnaire about their health and submit to temperature checks on the way into training facilities.

The rules also urge the cessation of car pooling outside of people you live with and showering at home rather than at the club.

Rugby Australia has submitted its own biosecurity plans and return to play proposals to the federal government with the hope that a date can be locked in within the next week for the game to return.

It is expected that a domestic Super Rugby competition would be pencilled in to kick off in July, with training starting in June.

Currently, most of the country's players are still only allowed to train in pairs while in WA players can train in groups of up to 10, while observing social distancing.


Home team players 15

Visiting team players 15

Home team substitutes and bench support 11

Visiting team substitutes and bench support 11

Home team travelling reserves 3

Visiting team travelling reserves 3

Home team roving Doctor 1

Visiting team roving Doctor 1

Home team roving Physiotherapist 1

Visiting team roving Physiotherapist 1

Home team Technical box (water carriers) 2

Visiting team Technical box (water carriers) 2

Home team Coaches box 5

Visiting team Coaches box 5

Match Day Doctor 1

Immediate Care Lead 1

Medical room video viewer 1

Paramedics 6

Other medical specialists 2

Medical room video operator 1

Security guards 4

Referee 1

Assistant Referee 2

Side-line Referees, time keeper, statistics and communications 7

Television Match Official 1

Citing Commissioner 1

Ball team and ball team supervisor 7

Match Manager 1

Match Director 1

Administration 10

Broadcaster pitch-side crew (cameramen, line runners & floor manager) 20

Commentators 6

Safe Return to Rugby – in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic 29

Outside broadcasting van 15

Stadium operations 8

Big screen and PA announcer 2

Total: 167