Leinster and Munster both made a return to contact training on Monday for the first time since Covid 19 put a stop to all sport and shut down the majority of the country.
Munsterrugby.ie report that 140 tests were conducted last week, with all 140 coming back negative. Munster began their training at the High performance centre in Limerick. However, it won’t be normal training as there will be a lot of restrictions. Munster say that training will be done in small groups of seven. It is expected that each set of 7 players will work with one coach without any interaction with the other groups. In addition, strict measures are in place in terms of the use of gym equipment.
Players will have to arrive, train and then go home. No use of showers, changing rooms or kitchen areas/video analysis rooms will be permitted. Players and staff will have to undergo mandatory daily temperature checks. This is in order to gain access to the High performance centre. As I reported earlier last week, automatic temperature checks can be conducted using DAMOC Thermo Check which was installed by the IRFU at the 6 High Performance Centres last week.
In terms of the team itself, CJ Stander and Chris Cloete have just returned to Ireland and both of these players will have to self isolate for two weeks. Joey Carbery is continuing with recovery, but he should play in the knockout stages of the Pro14. Munster Rugby state that Tadhg Beirne, Damian De Allende, Calvin Nash will return in August. Keith Earls is also expected to be back in August.
Leinster have also returned to training. Of course, these under the exact same restrictions as Munster. Leo Cullen was excited to be back. Cullen said, “It’s great seeing some of the faces coming in today, the guys are out there testing away which is great to see and the guys seem to have turned up in very good condition from the naked eye, so we’ll see what the numbers tell us”. Squad news wasn’t available on Monday, but it is expected on Tuesday.
Leinster and Munster will in both sides first game back on August 22nd. Leinster will top conference A, while Ulster, Munster and Edinburgh are expected to remain in the other three positions.