Rugby AU awaiting QLD approval on reformed competition

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The vast majority of Australia's Super Rugby players have received their flu injection as Rugby Australia awaits the green light from Queensland on its new competition proposal.

Three of Australia's four Super Rugby franchises have completed or nearly completed their flu injections as of Tuesday evening, with the Reds the only team outstanding, and there are not believed to have been any players to refuse on personal grounds.

The Brumbies and Waratahs, who returned to training on Tuesday, have all had their injections while the majority of the Rebels' squad and staff have also been vaccinated.

Players who left Melbourne early in the shutdown are the exception but all are expected to have their jab when they come into the team environment next.

Rugby AU chief medical officer Warren McDonald said on Monday night, presenting the game's return to play policy, that flu injections would be encouraged but not compulsory.

The voluntary stance is in line with Rugby Australia's regular policy on flu injections, which are offered to all players and staff annually on a voluntary basis.

Rugby Australia's non-mandatory view on flu jabs was reflected in the return to play plans submitted to all levels of government, understood to be a key point of difference with the NRL's  originially submitted plans.

NSW, ACT and Victoria are all treating professional sports as any other workplace, meaning that all employees have a choice about whether to have vaccinations.

Queensland's government have taken a different stance, something that has seen two Queensland-based NRL players who object to vaccinations on personal grounds have been stood down for the season while any NRL players travelling to play matches in Queensland will need medical exemptions if they have not had their flu shots.

At the time of writing, the Queensland government was yet to submit its feedback or approval to Rugby Australia about its competition plans and it is not clear whether vaccinations will prove to be a barrier for the approval of the competition.

Rugby Australia is targeting a July 4 return to competition, something that also gives the sport extra time to iron out any competition details with government as teams work through their training.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said he didn't believe there'd be any problems with his players having the vaccination.

"That's for the doc and the health authorities to worry about," he said.

"I don't think there'll be any issues with any of our players, medical experts only ask you to get the flu injection if they think it's in your own best interests so it's a no-brainer for me."