Pro14 needs coronavirus testing in place for return, says Gareth Delve

World Rugby is considering temporary changes to minimise contact time between players

Former Wales back-row Gareth Delve believes the proposed return of Pro14 rugby in August must be accompanied by wide-ranging testing for coronavirus.

The league hopes to return to play on 22 August with a series of behind closed doors matches.

The Pro14’s resumption will see teams from the same nation play each other before semi-finals and a final.

“It’s a case of making sure things are as safe as possible, getting these testing measure in place,” Delve said.

“So when it does return everyone involved in the game – not only the players but staff, ball-boys, cameramen – everyone involved in the product of pro rugby, is kept safe.

“It’s not just about the players, family members… need to be taken into consideration too.

“It’s got to be a balancing act but hopefully we’ll get there.”

It is hoped that the Pro14’s 2020-21 campaign can begin in October.

“We can take heart from the fact that the Bundesliga has returned and seems to be doing a fantastic job,” Delve, who won 11 Wales caps, told BBC Sport Wales.

“Safety is paramount, so in terms of getting the right testing measures in place, the right level of isolation, and potentially we don’t know how the virus will affect things come August.

“There’s been such a big change since February-March it’s difficult to know exactly where we’ll stand.

“But it’s certainly heartening to know things are returning.”

World Rugby is considering temporary changes such as limiting face-to-face contact, reducing time in scrums and extra hygiene procedures.

Delve welcomed the proposals while coronavirus is still a factor but the 37-year-old believes a return to the original laws should be the aim once the pandemic ends.

“It’s interesting from the study that’s been done… that the actual contact isn’t as high as people consider and the infectious range can be reduced to less than the 15 minutes which is considered to be most harmful,” added Delve, who played for Bath, Gloucester, Melbourne Rebels, NEC Green Rockets and Ospreys.

“Some of the measures that could go on, in terms of ball-in-play time and banishing the constant resets would be welcomed.

“It’s about getting that balance and making sure that when rugby does return, it’s still the exact sport we left in March and you don’t want to change too much of the nature of the game.”

BBC News

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