High school rugby players in Nova Scotia will get to finish their season, the province and the school sports federation announced Tuesday.
The Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation and the Department of Education issued a joint statement saying Rugby Nova Scotia will manage the rest of the season, including regional and provincial playoffs.
“They are the experts in safety in this … so they’ve agreed to take it over, run the rest of the year. I’m sure the students will be happy about that,” said NSSAF chair Stephen MacNeil. “The on-pitch experience for students will remain quite the same.”
Although rugby is not sanctioned by the NSSAF, for at least the rest of this season, it remains a school-approved sport covered by the School Insurance Program.
“We’re confident safety for the students will be looked after going forward and we’re comfortable with that,” said MacNeil.
“I’m thrilled today that we have an agreement going forward that has alleviated a lot of our concerns.”
Unclear if there will be rugby next season
It’s not clear whether rugby will go ahead next season.
Over the summer, the NSSAF will work with government, Rugby Nova Scotia and medical professionals on the safety of the sport, said Tuesday’s joint statement.
Deputy Education Minister Cathy Montreuil said Tuesday her department knew NSSAF was talking about safety in rugby, but the department wasn’t aware the federation was going to cancel the sport outright.
Montreuil said she and MacNeil discussed this disconnect during their morning meeting and her department and the federation will be looking at how best to work together going forward.
“So that we’re operating on a best range of information for our kids and that we operate on a no-surprises basis, I think we got those understandings today,” she said.
Last Thursday, the federation announced without notice it was cancelling the sport effective immediately due to safety concerns.
Top doctors and some sports health professionals in the province questioned the sudden decision, and students athletes across the province protested.
On Friday, Education Minister Zach Churchill ordered the decision be reversed. He released a statement saying the athletic federation neglected to consult school communities about the move and did not inform the department it intended to make the decision public.
MacNeil said at Tuesday’s joint news briefing that he didn’t think an apology was warranted over the cancellation because he felt everyone was acting in the best interests of students.
This story originally appeared on CBC