Lengths Rugby League World Cup officials would go to for players revealed

RUGBY League World Cup players would be banned from shaving in certain places, sharing boots, shampoo and strapping, spitting, chewing gum or going to a gym.

But Australia and New Zealand still said no, citing a lack of detail.

Covid-19 vaccinations would NOT be compulsory but tournament bosses would have paid for Australia-based players to quarantine on their return in facilities to state government standard after charter flights to and from Down Under.

The Kangaroos and Kiwis plunged the tournament into chaos and enraged rugby league bosses here by withdrawing if it is to be played this year, citing coronavirus concerns and a lack of detailed plans.

But SunSport has obtained the 74-PAGE document spelling out multi-million pound measures in place, with more to come.

The latest briefing given to countries details what players can and cannot do even at what is known as their Designated Sporting Environment (DSE) – the training field, gym, changing areas, swimming pool and offices.

The coin used by referees pre-match would be sanitised and every team in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments would be tested twice a week.

Normal celebrations would also be outlawed as it states: “Players must not shave at the DSE.

“They must not share towels, clothing, water bottles, boots, headgear, guards, etc. Must not share inhalers, Olbas oils, smelling salts, lip balm, shampoo or any other toiletry product.

“Must not share disposables such as strapping. Must not spit or chew gum. Must refrain from touching or removing their mouthguard.

“The use of, or attendance at, gyms or public pools is prohibited outside of official tournament purposes. Participants must not take part in any other sporting activity which has any form of contact.

“Any unnecessary close contact, including hugs, pile-ons, double handed high fives, kissing, handshakes, including when celebrating a try, are strictly forbidden.

“Players must not swap shirts. No huddles, for example celebrations, prayer huddles or team discussions, are permitted when not actually playing.”

How players and staff would get across the world is also detailed, with charter flights alone costing almost £1 million each.

On them, people cannot move around and must wear masks at all times, even when sleeping.

Everyone must do a PCR test and quarantine arrangements on return to Australia, where the vast majority of overseas nations’ players play, were made.

However they admit: “RLWC2021 strongly recommend all participants to receive a Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest opportunity. However, with due regard to medical ethics and personal choice, vaccination will not be a requirement.”

Special hotel arrangements were in place and the World Cup may even have gone beyond the UK Government’s recommendations as the report adds: “RLWC will provide return charter flights for individuals travelling from Australia.

“Passengers will either not be permitted to leave the charter flight during refuelling or will be permitted to enter a private terminal space.

“Participants shall wear a face covering at all times on the flight, including when sleeping, other than when eating or drinking.

“RLWC will ensure appropriate managed quarantine facilities are provided in Australia for all participants returning. This will be provided to a standard approved by the New South Wales Federal Government.

“Nations should ensure appropriate quarantine requirements are arranged for participants returning to countries other than Australia.

“Teams will be provided with suitable hotel provision which shall include appropriate biosecurity measures.

“This will include rooms on the same floor of the hotel where appropriate, minimising interaction with other hotel guests, private dining area and team room.

“All participants travelling from overseas must have proof of a negative PCR test in the three days prior to travel, or such other time as required by the airline.

“RLWC will cover the cost of these. Upon arrival into the UK, all incoming participants shall be PCR tested on or before the second day after their arrival. RLWC will cover the costs of these.

“RLWC reserve the right to increase biosecurity measures as may be required. This may include increased testing, amending food and drink supply and restrictions on movements at team hotels, training venues and match venues.”

Rugby Football League chairman Simon Johnson described the decision as ‘selfish and cowardly’ while the Rugby League Players Association blasted the fact it was made behind their back.

SunSport revealed a decision on whether to play on, postpone or cancel completely will be made in the coming days.

Now the focus is on whether players from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea will be withdrawn.

Despite the anger, the move was backed by Australia’s sports minister Richard Colbeck, who remains in talks with UK counterpart Nigel Huddleston.

He told SunSport: “We recognise Australian Rugby League has undertaken an enormous amount of work to find a way to overcome the obstacles to competing at this year's World Cup.

“The decision to not send a team to the event was no doubt a difficult one.

“Ultimately, Australian Rugby League has made a decision which puts the safety of its players and staff first. The Australian Government respects that decision.”

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