We are aware that at an amateur SARU meeting on 8 April 2022 it was decided that the U13A, U13B and U18 Craven Weeks as well as the U16 Grant Khomo week would be restricted to children who can provide proof of vaccination against SARS-CoV-2.
Understandably, this caused enormous anxiety for many parents. PANDA was approached by countless parents seeking advice. At no stage was it evident what had informed this decision by SARU and it was clearly not based on scientific evidence.
Various school rugby bodies and associations wrote to their parent bodies, advising them to vaccinate their children well before the starting time of the listed tournaments, if they wanted them to be eligible for selection. SARU’s decision was widely publicised and made known, ensuring that many parents were cajoled and made to feel a lot of pressure to have their children be injected.
On 8 May 2022, it was reported in Die Rapport newspaper that SARU is no longer forcing learners to get vaccinated if they wish to play in any of the national rugby youth weeks. It is difficult to find further information on this and it makes one wonder what drove the initial decision and what prompted the retraction.
It is happening too often that institutions and employers seem to be making use of this ‘scare tactic’ to enforce vaccines. It is time to call those employers and institutions out on this policy.
It is further disheartening that the retraction of the decision to only make vaccinated school learners eligible for selection was not widely publicised.
When making the controversial decision, it would seem that SARU, and associated clubs, either did not consider the scientific evidence, or were not given accurate information.
In this document we present a synopsis of the relevant science, with references, so that other sporting bodies and associations also seeking to impose a vaccine mandate on young sportspeople cannot claim there is no information about these issues.