GBWR has decided against starting outdoor group training ©GBWR

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) has decided not to pursue playing outdoors, despite the easing of Government restrictions allowing for it to explore that opportunity.

Chief executive David Pond explained that, as part of its Return to Play initiative, GBWR's focus is on resuming activities indoors.

New Government guidelines allow for those who play team sports to train together, but they must be in separate groups of no more than six and still follow social-distancing guidelines.

If GBWR were to start outdoor activities now, only four players would be able to train together.

This is because there has to be a minimum of two people present as support staff for safety reasons, who could assist with kitting, chair transfer, help re-stand chairs that have tipped over and provide first aid.

GBWR also consulted Sport England's "Legal Risks and Duty of Care When Returning to Play" publication, which outlines legal issues that could arise.

The guidance states that there is "a higher duty of care and standard of care" owed by organisations such as GBWR.

GBWR chief executive David Pond said that this decision hinged on many factors ©GBWR
GBWR chief executive David Pond said that this decision hinged on many factors ©GBWR

The governing body also said it is not in a position to carry out risk assessments on outdoor surfaces and would be liable if an accident were to take place, while variable weather conditions also contributed to its decision.

Pond said in a statement: "The Board understands that the decision not to pursue organised outdoor play will be a disappointment for those clubs that were looking forward to coming together for some sort of organised training. 

"We are conscious that whilst we want to ensure we meet our duty of care commitments we also want to be able to facilitate members getting back to play as quickly as it is safe to do so. 

"There is clearly a difficult balance between ensuring the appropriate measures to meet the necessary standard of care whilst not going so far as to make such measures a barrier to getting members back playing. 

"It’s a judgement call and as individuals we will all have our own view as to when it is safe to return.

"Our focus now is to continue to plan for getting our members back playing indoors as soon as Government restrictions are lifted and we can be sure it is safe to do so."

There have been more than 10.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, resulting in the deaths of more than 519,000 people.