We know that flags are an important symbol of support for your club, we also know that a huge number of people are talking about our decision as a Club to not allow Leinster flags to be officially distributed at our ground last Saturday.
Below we have clarified the detail on why we made this decision, but whilst we are all here, talking about flags, we thought it might be worthwhile making these conversations count and actually do some good in this world. Some real good.
The flags that we all fly at games are usually destined for the bin, the majority are used for just 80 minutes. 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 (subject to this being possible with such short notice). We will donate presents to the Children's University Hospital, Temple Street in Dublin and The Royal United Hospital in Bath so that those children who are unable to attend both of our games against Leinster, and more importantly unable to be at home this Christmas have a reason to smile. Any money raised from the recycling of the flags and or collections on Saturday will also be split between the two hospitals.
If Leinster would like to join us in doing this on Saturday we would welcome teaming up with them.
New safety guidance on flags in sports grounds was issued last month
The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (also known as The Green Guide) is published by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority. The Rec is designated as a sports ground by the Secretary of State and, as such, is subject to its guidance. Although it is termed a “guide”, the Bath Rugby Safety Certificate, issued by Bath and North East Somerset Council, mandates that we comply with its contents. As such, the contents of the Green Guide becomes mandatory for Bath Rugby.
The Green Guide was updated to its 6th Edition on 1st November 2018 (five weeks ago). It became relevant immediately on publication on this date. There was no specific mention of supporters’ flags in the 5th edition. Paragraph 15.13(g) of the new 6th edition states:
Flags, banners and netting
All flags and banners, including those brought in by spectators, and all netting used for segregation purposes, should be made from, or treated with, fire-retardant material, and a fire certificate produced as evidence.
Why Bath Rugby made the decision
The decision not to approve the use of the flags was made by Bath Rugby’s independent safety officer who has very significant experience across the industry in large scale sporting events including football as well as rugby.
No fire certificate was provided to Bath Rugby at any time with regards to the batch of Leinster supporter flags. Due to this, and regardless of weather conditions, Bath Rugby would have been in breach of the Green Guide, and therefore its Safety Certificate by allowing the official distribution of this item within the ground. Leinster are not bound by the Green Guide as they sit outside the UK and so the Club will not have been aware of its guidance.
The Leinster flags failed the three industry standard tests which all flags, including Bath Rugby’s flags are subject to. The flags that Bath Rugby use, whilst from the same supplier, are in fact a different model and comply with the Green Guide. Bath Rugby did not stop individuals from bringing in Leinster flags however, sanctioning a large scale official distribution of 1500 flags would have breached the Club’s safety certificate.
Alex Cohen, Operations Director for Bath Rugby commented;
“It’s possible that not all Clubs in the UK will have recognised that the safety regulations have changed. 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. We hope that whilst we are all here, talking about this topic, that we can change the conversation and actually do something that will make a difference at this time of year.
“We will be collecting flags after Saturday’s game and will be donating to the local children’s hospitals for all of those children that couldn't make it to the Rec or the Aviva stadium and also might not be at home this Christmas.
"We hope this clarifies our position. We would hope that this situation is now resolved. So fly your flags, support your team, and then donate your flags - we look forward to seeing you on Saturday for a great game of rugby.”
FLAGS AT THE AVIVA ON SATURDAY
We have provided a fire certificate to Leinster and so we don’t expect there to be any problems with flags this weekend.
Tests Carried Out
These tests are carried out on Bath Rugby flags as well as the visiting team flags. They are standard across the industry.
Snap Test – This involves bending the plastic pole of the flag to breaking point. The test is designed to see whether the plastic shatters on doing so, sending tiny shards of plastic flying which could cause injury, particularly to the eyes. It is also intended to see whether the end of the poles are left with a sharp, jagged edge, which could be capable of causing injury whether intentional or accidental.
Slip Test – Thousands of flags end up on the floor, particularly at the end of the game, or in an emergency evacuation. This test is designed to see whether either the pole or the material itself creates a significant slip hazard either through the slippery surface of the material, or through a rounded pole getting caught between a shoe and the floor. This test considers both wet and dry scenarios.
Fire Test – A simple test to see whether the material can sustain a flame and how aggressively it generates the flame if so.