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Rugby News

New format for closed doors stadium

Welford Road stadium has been adapted for the return of professional rugby behind closed doors this weekend, with a number of measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leicester Tigers welcome Bath Rugby in the club’s first home game since February 29, but with no supporters at the stadium.

On-site staffing is restricted while strict guidelines are in force to reduce the risk of infection among players and officials who are kept well apart other than in the 80 minutes of match action.

Social distancing is in place in the team dressing rooms, with extra rooms in use to allow both squads to have more space, and the match officials have been moved to alternative accommodation.

All players are subject to strict testing protocols, while there are temperature checks and health questionnaires for everyone else entering the stadium, including the media.

The stadium site is divided into Red, Amber and Green Zones, with access to the Red Zone restricted to players, coaches and match officials only.

Replacements from each team remain a metre apart in the Red Zone until they warm up or are needed on the pitch.

As the Breedon Stand is the designated Red Zone, media are being moved out of the press box to the opposite side of the pitch. All media are expected to wear face coverings while photographers have designated positions away from the Red Zone.

Broadcast interviews adhere to social distancing guidelines and the post-match press conference for the written media will be conducted with coaches and players via Zoom call.

The Amber Zone includes the Holland & Barrett Stand, Mattioli Woods Stand and Robin Hood Stand as well as stadium concourses, corridors and offices, while Green Zone is the stadium perimeter.

Partner banners have been positioned across the lower seating deck in the Holland & Barrett Stand.

The match referee will conduct the coin toss with team captains outside rather than in the tunnel area while teams also take different routes to the pitch from their changing area.

Matches include a brief drinks break in each half when players are required to use their own individual bottles.

Matchballs are cleaned regularly, with post protectors and flags cleaned at half-time.

As the stadium remains closed to other visitors, and the ticket office and club shop are also closed, all supporters are urged to show their support from home and not visit the stadium as Tigers manage risk of infection while also performing the work behind the scenes in readiness for an eventual return of crowds.