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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 16 January, 2019
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Bath point to new UK safety guidelines in defence of move to ban Leinster flags

‘Whilst we understand that flags present a low risk of injury, we cannot and will not ignore the guidance that we are mandated to as part of our safety certificate.’

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

FLAG-GATE RUMBLES on with the second round of Heineken Champions Cup fixtures drawing closer.

The Leinster Rugby Supporters Club on Saturday said they were prevented from bringing 1,500 flags inside Bath’s ground, the Rec, for distribution ahead of the round three fixture.

Bath Rugby quickly announced that the move was made on health and safety grounds, leading Leinster to issue a statement on Monday to assure their own supporters and other clubs they have “nothing to fear” from the flags, whose manufacturer supplies flags for numerous venues across Ireland and the United Kingdom.

In an open letter issued today, Bath Rugby moved to clarify their basis for banning the stick-and-cloth implements from the Rec.

The missive begins with a contemplation on the life-span of a flag before cutting to the – rather dull – chase.

‘The Green Guide’ is the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds handbook published by the UK’s Sports Grounds Safety Authority. Bath say a new edition was issued on 1 November with an updated paragraph 15.13(g) stipulating that fans carrying flags must produce a fire safety certificate.

“It’s possible that not all clubs in the UK will have recognised that the safety regulations have changed,” says Bath’s operations director Alex Cohen.

EPCR Branding Fans at the Rec without a fire certificate between them. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Whilst we understand that flags present a low risk of injury, we cannot and will not ignore the guidance that we are mandated to as part of our safety certificate.”

The Premiership club have provided a fire certificate to Leinster for the flags they intend to bring to the Aviva Stadium this Saturday [kick-off 17.30] and have called on their hosts to join them in collecting flags from fans post-match so that “any money raised from the recycling of the flags and or collections” will be donated to Temple Street Children’s Hospital and Bath’s Royal United Hospital.

“We want to make these flags count this weekend and so the Bath Rugby ‘Elf and Safety’ team will be outside the main gate of the Aviva Stadium collecting flags after the game.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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