Sport New Zealand's blunt warning as sports clubs across New Zealand prepare for return

Sports clubs across New Zealand are being warned to closely follow the guidelines around gatherings, as they prepare to welcome back members for the first time since the lockdown.

From midday Friday, gatherings are now extended to 100 people, meaning sport is back on in some areas.

But that permission to do so comes with a blunt message from officials.

While acknowledging the opportunity to play again has been a long time coming, Sport New Zealand is urging clubs not to get too far ahead of themselves.

"We've got one chance at this to get it right," says National Sport Development Consultant  Andy Rogers.

"The message today is coaches not to rush in, just to take their time, get prepared and understand the new environment." 

Clubs will be required to have contact tracing at all trainings, with strict health guidelines in place to ensure the return runs smoothly.

And coaches and officials are being encouraged to be over-cautious.

Canterbury Rugby CEO Tony Smail agrees, telling Newshub the club will adhere to all COVID-19 prevention measures.

"We are here to play safe first, and then encourage our people back into the sport," Smail notes.

Part of Sport NZ's concern is anxiety among parents and kids about returning to sport in the current environment.

At Papatoetoe Rugby, they insist every measure will be taken to help ease that and ensure they provide a fun, but safe environment for all club members. 

"If anybody has any questions they're free to come and ask us, we'll be visible for any anxious parents who have any questions about the safety of their child," says Papatoetoe Rugby Club committee member Viki Vaoga.

While a return to sport may be imminent, it's about to look very different than before the COVID crisis.