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Dragons vs Benetton to Go Ahead

The PRO14 have confirmed that despite disruption to fixtures due to the outbreak of the coronavirus the Dragons game with Benetton will be played

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(photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The PRO14 have released a statement to confirm that tonight’s game between the Dragons and Benetton will proceed as scheduled despite the recent outbreak of the coronavirus.

Four matches in the competition have been called off so far that were set to take place in Italy due to the large number of people affected by the virus in Italy to date. 

Along with that the Italian men’s, women’s and U-20’s games with Ireland and England in the Six Nations over the next two weeks’ have been postponed due to the virus. 

However, the competition organisers released a statement this morning to ensure that the game this evening will be played. 

“Protecting the well-being of participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters is an absolute priority for PRO14 Rugby which has been carefully monitoring the situation in relation to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. It is satisfied that allowing the fixture to proceed this evening as scheduled is consistent with the very latest guidance from the UK government and specific recommendations received from Public Health Wales. There is currently no direction from the UK government that prohibits travel from Italy in relation to the outbreak. However, in keeping with the UK government guidance and on the advice of Public Health Wales, relayed to via the Welsh Rugby Union (current arrangement with all participating unions), PRO14 Rugby has requested and received written assurances from Benetton Rugby that (among other things) nobody in their travelling party has presented any symptoms associated with the virus, knowingly been in contact with any person with the virus and/or lived in or travelled to any of the so-called ‘lockdown’ areas in northern Italy since February 19. Benetton Rugby have been also instructed to, and have, actively discouraged its supporters from travelling to this fixture. PRO14 Rugby has taken these actions in order to protect the well-being of our participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters,” the statement read. 

Despite tonight’s game going ahead there are growing concerns that more games will be postponed or even cancelled due to the virus with the number of people infected becoming larger each day. 

As seen with the Six Nations it could cause a major fixture pile-up or games being classed as 0-0 draws, but what happens next remains to be seen.

Pro14

Ospreys to help set up ‘field hospital’

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Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

The Ospreys training base at Llandarcy Academy of Sport is to be transformed into a field hospital in a bid to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Work has already started at Llandarcy (which is part of NPTC Group of Colleges) and will be completed in the next three to four weeks.

The beds would be used for COVID-19 patients and other patients who need medical care, but they will be nursed in separate areas.

“The Ospreys have always been rooted in the community and region and we were happy to help in any way to ease the pressure on the NHS and to assist in dealing with coronavirus,” said Andrew Millward, Ospreys managing director.

“Allowing our training base at Llandarcy to be used in this way is the least we could do as we all come to terms with dealing with this virus at this time.”

There are no plans to provide any intensive care beds in Llandarcy as most seriously ill patients will be treated and cared for in the main hospitals in the region.

The College which runs the Llandarcy Academy of Sport has offered its premises for use as a field hospital with 340 hospital beds available for use.

The public, health and private sector, along with further education, are working closely together in an unprecedented response aimed at safeguarding the health and wellbeing of people living in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

Llandarcy Academy of Sport is normally used by thousands of students as well as keep fit enthusiasts. The Ospreys also use the state-of-the-art facilities as their training ground.

Mark Dacey, CEO and Principal of NPTC Group of Colleges said the College would do everything it could to help in the current situation.

“These are difficult times for everyone,” said Dacey.

“We all need to pull together and do whatever we can to help tackle the ongoing COVID-19 emergency that we are all caught up in. The College will do whatever it can to help support our communities and its people during this very difficult time.”

Wyn Evans, Managing Director of the facility thanked everyone involved for coming together and backing the move to provide a field hospital on the site.

“Our users, which include the Ospreys, Swansea Ladies Football, members and lots more are fully supportive. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but we all realise measures have to be taken in order for this situation to be over as quickly as possible,” said Evans.

Tracy Myhill, Chief Executive of Swansea Bay University Health Board, paid tribute to the Ospreys for the willingness to allow Llandarcy to be used at this time and said she was “grateful and proud’” of how communities have come together.

Stadiums, leisure centres and a holiday park are being converted into field hospitals across Wales to help with the response to the outbreak of coronavirus.

The Welsh Rugby Union have already confirmed both Principality Stadium and the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan will be used as emergency venues to help with treating coronavirus.

Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli – the home of the Scarlets – is also acting in the same way.

Courtesy of Welsh Rugby

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6 Nations

Rodney Parade to help in fight against coronavirus

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Rodney Parade has become the latest sporting venue to open its doors to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Newport stadium has been provided free of charge as a base for front-line NHS staff to check if they have the virus and are able to continue working. At this stage only NHS staff are eligible to be tested at Rodney Parade to see if they have COVID-19. Dragons managing director Mark Jones said: “The health service and care workers are doing an incredible job in such difficult circumstances so we are happy to offer our help and support in any way we can.

“Playing our part in the local community is at the heart of what we’re about at the Dragons and in times of crisis people stick together. We would urge everyone to follow the latest NHS advice on protecting themselves from the virus, particularly to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.”

A statement from Aneurin Bevan Health Board read: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is essential for delivering services for the people of Gwent. It is fundamental during this time when the most vulnerable people need us most.

“We have set up a drive-through facility to test staff for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and help us get our teams back in to work on the front line. The testing site is located at Rodney Parade in Newport and we ask that everyone practises the stay-at-home guidance and does not visit the site.

“Everyone at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board would like to thank the team at Rodney Parade for their community-focused approach and accommodating us during these difficult times.”

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Pro14

Ulster Star Commits Future to Province

Ulster have announced that one of their key men has signed a contract extension with the northern province

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster have announced that Ireland prop Jack McGrath has committed his future to the club after signing a contract extension.

The 30-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal that will see him remain with the province until 2022. 

Having joined Ulster from Leinster before this season McGrath is delighted to have his future sorted. 

“On arriving at Ulster, I was welcomed with open arms and I have very much settled here since joining at the start of this season. It’s a fantastic set-up in terms of the players, coaches and support staff that I get to work alongside every day – and I look forward to what the future holds for the province over the course of the next two years,” he said. 

The 56-cap Ireland international and a British and Irish Lion McGrath has a huge amount of experience behind him and head coach Dan McFarland thinks he has a big role to play in the future of the province. 

“Jack’s reliably strong performances and vast international experience make him a great asset to Ulster – so I’m delighted that he is chosen to continue his career here with us. By renewing the contracts of players such as Jack, we are continuing to strengthen our squad now, and also into the future, given the important leadership he provides for our young talent starting out in their careers. I’m confident that Jack will play an important role in Ulster’s successes in the years ahead,” he said. 

It is a huge boost for Ulster to have his services to rely upon over the coming seasons as they look to continue to build on their brilliant season to date.

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