Worcester Warriors players returned to training on Monday for the first time in three months due to the enforced lockdown period caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Today they released a video showing a welcome arrival at Sixways, a man that many thought would not walk again.
All Premiership and Championship clubs are able to start Stage 1 of the Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance, which allows for individual conditioning – or groups of individual conditioning – in an environment that that follows strict social distancing at all times.
At Sixways there is a new thermal screening system with the most advanced testing in the Premiership, and that was also in use for the first time yesterday. Players training in small groups with staggered starts in both the gym and on the pitch.
All the players appeared to be happy to be back, and there was an added bonus when Michael Fatialofa paid them a visit, casually strolling over the high performance centre in scenes that most would never have imagined possible.
Fatialofa spent six months in hospital after suffering a C4 vertebrae fracture and spinal contusion in January. He is now walking again.
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) June 16, 2020
Head of medical Ryan Kehoe said recently: “Following a handover from the rehabilitation team at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, we will look to continue to build on the amazing work they have done with Michael.
“His rehabilitation at this stage will focus on improving his general muscular strength, coordination and mobility.”
WATCH: ‘They said I was a quadriplegic and might never walk again’ – Fatialofa and his girlfriend on his miracle progress
Warriors prop Ethan Waller elaborated on the Coronavirus safety measure that are in place.
“It’s really good to come back and see the boys, the energy was great. It’s nice to train in a proper environment instead of in my shed,” he said.
“The training is similar to a normal pre-season except it’s a bit more condensed and intense because we have time slots that we have to get in and out. The measures the club have put in place make you feel really safe coming back into the club.
“That was one of the big concerns for a lot of people because rugby is a contact sport. But Gené Willis, our Head of Stadium Operations and our Managing Director Peter Kelly and the Warriors staff have all done an outstanding job in getting this place as safe as it can be. You are probably a lot safer training here than you are going to the shops.
“The thermal screening technology is another aspect which makes you feel safe coming in. Safety is paramount. You don’t want to be coming here risking yourself and possibly bringing something back to your family and loved ones. We’ve got that and also a symptom checker so that if anything is wrong we go straight back home,” he explained.
Premiership Rugby has set a target date of August 15 for the resumption of the 2019/20 season. The structure for the remainder of the 2019-20 season – for which the original date for the Premiership final was June 20 – will be released in due course.