COMPETITIVE league rugby for the club game is set to resume in September in the same format as pre-Covid, it has been announced.
A survey of the Scottish Rugby Union’s member clubs found that 63 percent of 252 respondents wanted the return of a national league structure with promotion and relegation after almost 18 months of the grassroots game being on hold due to the pandemic. The other option was a regional league structure with no promotion or relegation.
Taking into account the potential for further Covid-related disruption, it has been agreed that so long as at least 65% of all league fixtures have been fulfilled, promotion and relegation within the leagues will be applied, and if the total number of all completed league fixtures falls below that threshold then the season will be no promotion or relegation.
The league programme will be prioritised meaning that cup competition details and fixtures will not be confirmed until later into the season when Scottish Rugby can be confident that the 65% target can be reached.
“We are extremely grateful to the clubs who responded to our survey as it has been fundamental in informing the decision-making process,” said Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development, Sheila Begbie.
“Further to the announcement made today, we anticipate that a number of clubs will wish to review their position and may request to step down into a lower league following changes to their squads or player numbers. As a result, we anticipate publishing fixtures week beginning 21 June having received and considered any and all requests.
“It has been really encouraging to see clubs and schools return to rugby activity over the last few months, and especially recent weeks as all ages can now resume contact training. I am really pleased we can provide our clubs and schools with clarity on how we can return to competitive rugby in the months ahead. I wish everyone well in their preparations for the new season.”
Scottish Rugby President, Ian Barr added: “On behalf of the Council I’d like to thank everyone from across the game who shared their views and insight to enable us to have a clear competition structure at every level, across the whole country, for rugby to resume fully when safe to do so.”