Biggar will bounce back after season cancellation heartbreak

Club President Johnny Bogle has backed Hartreemill side to win promotion all over again when rugby resumes after the coronavirus lockdown

Biggar were crowned champions of National One three weeks ago but have now had promotion into the Premiership snatched away. Image: Nigel Pacey
Biggar were crowned champions of National One three weeks ago but have now had promotion into the Premiership snatched away. Image: Nigel Pacey

BIGGAR President Johnny Bogle has vowed that the club will bounce back from the crushing disappointment of having promotion into the Premiership snatched from their grasp by the decision to declare the 2019-20 adult male season null and void, and he has challenged the players to reproduce their all-conquering form in National One when rugby eventually resumes after the summer.

The Hartreemill men were 19 points clear at the top of the National One table when rugby was shutdown just over two weeks ago, with second placed Heriot’s Blues having only three games [potentially worth 15 points] to play, meaning that they could not be caught. But the rug was pulled from under them when it was announced on Tuesday that the campaign is being mothballed because of the coronavirus crisis, meaning there will be no promotion or relegation between leagues ahead of next season. Biggar were the only team in the National Leagues to suffer in this way.

“It was a bitter pill to swallow when we heard last night that we wouldn’t be going up despite having been clear-cut champions of the league before this crisis came crashing down on top of all of us,” said Bogle. “The best response will be to come back next year and do it all over again, and I’m sure I speak for everyone at the club when I say that we are absolutely determined to do that.


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“It is going to be tough on the players who have worked so hard to achieve what they have this season, and it is going to be a big challenge motivating ourselves to go all over again, but there is a great culture in the squad so I’m confident that we will be able to do that.  I think we’re going to try to organise a conference call as soon as we can, just to get everyone in the squad speaking together, and to try to make sure that all the boys are in the right place mentally with it.”

Biggar have not yet had time to have a full committee discussion about the decision to cancel the season, but Bogle indicated that there isn’t a huge appetite to challenge the SRU.

“There is a moral issue here as well, and I don’t think we want to be creating extra fuss around ourselves at a time when people are facing so many more significant hardships,” he said. “There is a bigger picture to consider, so we have to accept that someone was going to get the short straw, and it happened to be us. I don’t envy the people on the SRU who had to make the decision, because there was no solution that was going to be fair for everybody.

“I don’t want to sound flippant, but the sun will rise again, and we will get back to playing rugby one day. We believe we are strong enough as a club to bounce back from this to get to where we want to be, which is in the Premiership.”

“We believe we are a Premiership club – especially with the new Super6 structure – and we felt we had timed our run perfectly. Our academy is now beginning to really pay dividends with 90 percent of our squad having come through our own system, and we’ve had a few older heads like Craig Borthwick come in to provide experience, so we felt we were ready to make the step up and I think our results proved that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be this year due to events out with our control.

“Because of where we are geographically, we have got used to players being tapped up, and I’d imagine some of our guys will have had a few phone calls from Premiership clubs today, but they were all committed to another season with us before this crisis hit and I’d like to think that won’t change now.”


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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1818 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

5 Comments

  1. Tough break, I guess there’s no easy answer and many teams across all sports will be impacted. They may have to take this one on the chin but they’re an ambitious club with a base of good players so this shuld only delay them making the top flight by a year.

  2. One thing is sure, Biggar deserved to be promoted, they won National 1 by a country mile and I don’t believe anyone would begrudge them that. The question of title winners and demotion/promotion in all other situations and leagues was unresolved and the null and void declaration is fair for all other teams. This unique set of circumstances required a bespoke solution. Biggar’s promotion would obviously create an imbalance in numbers in the top two leagues for season 2020-21 but this could easily be addressed the following season by demoting one more team from the Premiership than is promoted from National 1. Play-off(s) would still be an option. The odd-numbers and subsequent imbalance of match scheduling is far from insurmountable. One team in each league would have a week off where they didn’t play a match but in a busy schedule that might even be seen as a positive. The important thing is that all competing teams would know where they stood before the season commenced. No team would be adversely affected this season, particularly those threatened by demotion when they still had a fighting chance for survival. There is no perfect solution and I still feel sorry for the other teams competing for promotion from National leagues 2 and 3, however it is a fact that those clubs, unlike Biggar, had not secured their right for promotion at the time of suspension of the leagues. I submit that this would have been a fairer solution. It is extremely unfair for Biggar to have won the title and promotion only for this to be stripped away. Mr Bogle’s magnanimous response is both remarkable and commendable in the circumstances and I wish Biggar every success for the next campaign.

    • It’s a good shout but could have the potential for a butterfly effect elsewhere. It would have been good to at least seen some transparent discussions covering options such as yours.

  3. One of the more egregious effects of the decision to void the season. I applaud Biggars response.

    Best of luck for the new campaign.

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