Monday 13 September 2021 4:50 pm

English rugby incentivises clubs to achieve 85 per cent Covid vaccination

English rugby chiefs have revealed an incentive scheme aimed at achieving an 85 per cent Covid-19 vaccination rate among players and staff.

Once a club has reached an that threshold, social distancing can be removed for training and match day operations and masks will no longer be compulsory outdoors, among other measures.

The Professional Game Board (PGB) launched its new strategy today, effective immediately, in the hope of encouraging greater take-up of the vaccine at elite level.

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the elite game is our priority and we know It is vital we endure the vast majority of players and management are fully vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Chris Booy, chair of the PGB.

“It is still a personal choice as to whether you receive a vaccination, but we want to strongly encourage as many players and staff as possible to be vaccinated so that we can proactively contribute as much as possible to the safety of our wider communities and of our players, staff and supporters.”

Over the course of the pandemic, rules were changed both on and off the pitch to reduce contact and minimise infections spreading.

However, last season 10 Premiership games were cancelled in Covid-related circumstances, with a controversial point awarding system put in place as a result.

Testing will remain in place while these changes are evaluated, and only sides who have achieved the 85 per cent vaccinate rate will be able to relax measures.

The new Premiership season is due to begin on Friday night as last year’s semi-finalists Bristol Bears host newly promoted Saracens.