Chiefs return to Stage One training

nowell stretch.jpg
Exeter Chiefs and England duo Jack Nowell and Ollie Devoto stretch ahead of them starting Stage One training at Sandy Park this week. Pictures: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Members of the Exeter Chiefs first team squad have completed their first week back in Stage One training at Sandy Park.

Having been forced to train individually during the lockdown period, Monday saw the players given the green light to return to socially-distanced training in small groups.

Ahead of that return, the Chiefs had to ensure stringent guidelines were in place to ensure the safe return to players and staff, these included:

  • All players and support staff had to undertake an Education Module which will inform a formal "opt in" process for return to training.
  • The confirmation of the appointment of both a Covid-19 Manager and Covid-19 Medical Lead.
  • Clear guidance given regarding cleaning and hygiene standards for training facilities.
  • The provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate for the setting.
  • Together with confirmation of a daily medical screening for players and support staff, which involves the completion of a symptom checklist and temperature check before entering the training facility.

This week’s return marked the first significant step for the Chiefs in a bid to get the 2019/20 season back up and running. Before it was shut down in March, Rob Baxter’s side were five points clear at the top of the Gallagher Premiership and were also preparing for a quarter-final clash with Northampton Saints in the Heineken Champions Cup.

Both Premiership Rugby and European Professional Club Rugby have stated that are keen to ensure the 2019/20 campaign is completed.

Director of Rugby Baxter himself was on hand to oversee his squad return to training this week.

Previously, he said of the players’ return: “Obviously, I am very pleased that we are now at the stage where we can meet all the necessary minimum standards to ensure we can return to Stage One of training.

“A huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes at the club, involving the likes of Tony Rowe (Chief Executive), Chris Pickles (Stadium Operations Manager), Adrian Harris (Director of Medical Services), Jamie Fulton (Head of Medical Services), Mark Twiggs (Head of Strength & Conditioning), Tony Walker (Team Manager) and myself to ensure all of our players and staff will have the highest standards of care on their return

“Initially, all of our training will be carried out in an outdoor environment in small groups, after which we then review the situation and make the appropriate decisions based on the assessments and informations we have at hand.”

No timescale has been set for clubs to move to Stage 2 or Stage 3, which involves the safe return of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

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