Details around how winter sports in North Otago can start in Alert Level 2 are still being developed.

Community sport can only resume in Level 2 if the combined number of players, coaches and/or officials does not exceed 10, in line with the Government’s restrictions on gatherings.

That prevents many team sports – including rugby, hockey and netball – from starting.

North Otago Rugby chief executive Colin Jackson said club rugby could start as soon as June 20 if the Government lifted its ban on gatherings of more than 10 people on May 25.

New Zealand Rugby has released a mandatory three-phase plan for clubs to follow to ensure a safe return to play. It includes a preparation to train phase, a four-week training phase and finally the resumption of competitions.

Jackson was hopeful the 10-person gathering rule would be increased on May 25 allowing organised training to start in North Otago.

“Hopefully we are now in the home straight,” Jackson said.

Work is also being done to re-start community netball at Level 2, and Netball New Zealand was confident it would be possible “in a measured and quite staggered way”.

North Otago Netball president Sonya Macdonald said a survey had been sent out to get an indication of what players and clubs in the region wanted to do, and felt comfortable doing, this season.

“We had a lot of support to modify the game – so running shorter games and running [the season] longer,” Macdonald said.

“We don’t want to interfere with our summer sports though, so we will be trying our best to modify our season.”

A large number of netball players were school pupils, so it was best to let them get settled back into school first, Macdonald said.

North Otago Hockey president Jared Ovens said starting the local hockey competition would depend on directives from the sport’s national body.

“The big things [will be] contact tracing and hygiene,” Ovens said.

“We are quite lucky we only have one venue, and it’s fenced off, which will make contact tracing easier.

“It might be we spread out the gaps between games so we don’t have people hanging around.”

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