Three weeks since the return of the Gallagher Premiership and the rugby world is now well-versed in the ‘new matchday’ experience.
Players, coaches and stadium staff have had to get used to a new setting with amended regulations and tighter restrictions around grounds up and down the country.
As part of our Behind the Scenes series looking at the ‘new matchday’, we’ve caught up with Leicester Tigers staff members to hear their insights and experiences so far.
The matchday steward is an ever-present sight at sports stadiums and venues around the world. Often on hand to direct supporters, respond to issues and create a safe environment for fans, at the moment, the emphasis isn’t on letting people in.
The restart of the rugby season has bought about challenges at grounds revolving around movements inside stadiums. On a matchday, Welford Road is currently operating with minimal staff in order to reduce the number of people on site, which formed one of the most important regulations set out by Premiership Rugby and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
With restricted entrance points, temperature checks, unique access passes and a whole host of responsibilities required for a stadium to operate securely, Welford Road staff have taken on more specialist roles around the stadium.
Alongside senior matchday sytaff and Welford Road staff, the club’s safety officer Steve Haylett hasn’t left anything to chance.
“We’ve taken the first steps to getting rugby back up and running, albeit under a different set of circumstances at the stadium for everyone involved,” he said.
“The site still requires security and our matchday team are all important in ensuring the safety of everyone at the stadium, from TV crews to the players.”
Club employees Jess Holland and Basmah Patel have been volunteering their time on matchdays.
Jess explained: “Restricted to players, coaches and match officials only, my role has been to ensure that only people with the correct accreditation enter the ‘Red Zone’ (The Breedon Stand and playing surface). All attendees have to pass a temperature check on arrival before being given their accreditation.
“I was working alongside Jack Burchill who has been working matchdays for Leicester Tigers for many years, so it was great to chat to him and hear what he usually does on a matchday.”
Situated on the opposite side of the stadium, Basmah added: “We had a team meeting the week of the first game to discuss all the roles and receive any information that we required.
“My role was to provide visitors in the ‘Amber Zone’ with their passes, and refuse entry to anyone without accreditation. This was mainly members of the media and press, alongside Tigers staff with ‘Amber Zone’ access.”
Tigers are next in action when Sale Sharks visit Welford Road on Saturday, September 5 (3.00pm). You can follow the action live via the official Leicester Tigers app, while season ticket holders will be able to access the BT Sport Matchday Pass.