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Ulster Rugby aces to get coronavirus tests before return to training



Ulster Rugby are set to return to training next week.

Ulster Rugby are set to return to training next week.

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne

�INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ulster Rugby are set to return to training next week.

Ulster Rugby players and staff will be tested for coronavirus next week before returning to training on June 29.

Preparations for a planned August 22 return with a pair of inter-provincial derbies in a near-empty Aviva Stadium are being ramped up with Leinster and Munster undergoing tests today ahead of their resumption of training on Monday, to be followed by Ulster and Connacht the following week.

The tests should produce results in two to four days and are similar to those that have been undertaken by Premier League footballers as well as New Zealand's rugby players ahead of their own recent comebacks.

IRFU medical director Dr Rod McLoughlin said: "We are co-ordinating and overseeing the implementation of the Covid-19 protocols across our five designated High Performance Centres. We will be working closely with the Covid managers to support them in the roll-out protocols."

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne has already laid out the stark financial realities for the sport in shutdown, with losses of up to €20m (£18m) predicted should international rugby not take place in 2020.

A wage deferral scheme implemented at the start of the crisis to ease cash flow concerns comes to an end later this month and last week brought a testy public exchange between the union and Rugby Players Ireland as the subject of wage cuts appeared to be broached in the media ahead of proper negotiations.

Against such a backdrop, it will be seen as almost imperative that when the sport does get the ball rolling again, it does so with minimal complications.

Belfast Telegraph