Australia

'It's a shame': Club rugby boss urges fans to do right thing after packed trial game at Easts

'It's a shame': Club rugby boss urges fans to do right thing after packed trial game at Easts

Sydney Rugby Union boss Phil Parsons says Saturday’s events at Eastern Suburbs Rugby Club were “a shame” but made it clear crowds will be allowed at this weekend's opening round of Shute Shield games and urged fans to adhere to strict social-distancing rules.

Police were called to the club on Saturday afternoon, due to social-distancing concerns, during a trial match against Sydney University.

Warringah Rats fans at last year's Shute Shield final.

Warringah Rats fans at last year's Shute Shield final. Credit:Brook Mitchell

Easts president John Murray was quick to defend the event, saying social-distancing measures were in place. A disgruntled local resident took photos of spectators standing close to each other at the match.

Parsons believes it was a licensing issue.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Saturday afternoon. It’s just a shame,” Parsons said. “That’s a licensing problem, not a licence to play rugby problem. They’ve got a bar licence … others don’t all have that, they have event licences.

Police were called to Eastern Suburbs Rugby Club on Saturday afternoon amid social distancing concerns.

Police were called to Eastern Suburbs Rugby Club on Saturday afternoon amid social distancing concerns.

“Those people at Easts didn’t do the right thing by their club. We don’t have police everywhere to keep people apart.”

Round one of the Shute Shield kicks off this weekend and all six venues - Chatswood Oval, Manly Oval, Coogee Oval, Forshaw Rugby Park, Pittwater Rugby Park and Drummoyne Oval - will enforce strict rules when fans enter.

COVID-19 signs are ready to go at Pittwater Rugby Park.

COVID-19 signs are ready to go at Pittwater Rugby Park.

All tickets have to be purchased online and numbers will be restricted depending on the size of the ground and facilities. For example, Randwick said on its website 500 tickets would be available but that number could change as the week goes on.

Southern Districts have set up green stickers at Forshaw Rugby Park to make sure supporters adhere to social distancing protocols.

Southern Districts have set up green stickers at Forshaw Rugby Park to make sure supporters adhere to social distancing protocols. Credit:Paul Rids

All clubs received a COVID-19 starter pack from NSW Rugby Union and the SRU. Supporters will not be allowed to stand around once they have been served alcohol and food. Green stickers will also be put in the stands to ensure people are spread out.

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Hundreds of litres of sanitiser spray and disinfectant will be available, and volunteers will make sure people keep their distance.

Parsons said supporters owed it to their clubs to do the right thing.

“The punters have a social contract with us too, they have to do the right thing too,” Parsons said. “You come in, buy a beer and a pie, and you walk back. There’s nowhere to loiter in corridors or stand around the bars. We’ve got heaps of signage, hand sanitiser and rules in place. We’ve all met with council, we all have COVID protocols and everything is ticketed.”

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