Scottish 2019-20 club season declared null and void by the SRU

There will be no promotion or relegation between leagues ahead of the 2020-21 campaign

Stewart’s Melville No 8 Scott Alldritt had helped his team into pole position in the race for promotion from National Two, but the Inverleith men will have to wait another year at least to climb the leagues. Image: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON
Stewart’s Melville No 8 Scott Alldritt had helped his team into pole position in the race for promotion from National Two, but the Inverleith men will have to wait another year at least to climb the leagues. Image: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON

THE Scottish club rugby’s senior men’s season has been declared null and void as a result of the coronavirus shutdown, meaning that there will be no promotion or relegation between leagues ahead of the 2020-21 season, whenever that is able to get under way.

This news will come as a major blow to Biggar, the runaway leaders of National League One, who had already secured enough league points for promotion into the Premiership, and as a huge relief to Dundee High at the other end of the same table given that they had already been condemned to relegation.

Edinburgh Accies, who were hanging on precariously at the bottom of the Premiership, and who almost certainly needed two wins from their last two games in hand against the top sides in the league (Marr and Currie Chieftains) to have any chance of avoiding the drop, will also feel they have dodged a bullet.

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The decision to declare the season null and void was reached following a consultation process involving the participating clubs, the Championship and Competition Committee members and Scottish Rugby’s own Rugby Development Department.

Five possible scenarios were presented, with around half of clubs favouring the null and void option. The remaining clubs were split between the other four options. The second most favoured option – finishing the season based on the league positions at the time of shutdown – received the support of around a quarter of clubs.

The other options were to take an average of points over the season and promote and relegate based on this outcome, to count earlier fixtures as double-headers, or to award two points to each team for all outstanding fixtures.

Further to the club consultation, the declaration of a null and void season was recommended by the Convenor of the Championship Committee, the Reserve League Committee Chair and the Chair of the Women’s Competition Committee. Their recommendation was supported by Sheila Begbie, Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development.

A paper summarising the consultation process, the possible season-ending options and containing a recommendation from Championship Convenor, the Reserve League Chair and the Women’s Competition Chair was provided to Scottish Rugby Council for consideration and feedback.

The Council’s endorsement of the proposal was then ratified by the Scottish Rugby Board in its role to oversee the best interests of the game, with authority then granted to the Championship Committee to bring the recommendation into force.

“It was clear from the outset that, in terms of the consequential impact on the various leagues in terms of promotion/relegation there would be no ‘right’ solution, particularly once it was clear that our preferred option of completing the season would no longer be possible,” said Scottish Rugby President Dee Bradbury.

“Every solution we looked at was likely to be problematic in some way – none was likely to be supported by everyone. It was therefore considered essential that the full range of options were explored, each potential option was sense checked and that, as far as possible, a broad consensus was reached across the game as to the most appropriate outcome.

“We fully accept some clubs will be disappointed with this decision and share their frustration that, for wider societal reasons beyond our control, their hard work to push for success this season hasn’t yielded the rewards they deserve.”

Begbie added: “It was important we went through a thorough process to canvass opinion and offer a range of options for how the season could be concluded.

“I would like to thank all the clubs that contributed to this process and for their valuable input. I know the Competitions Committees and Convenors have put in a huge amount of time to ensure there was a credible outcome for every club, and while there are obviously clubs who will be disappointed, I believe this is a fair solution for everyone in these unprecedented circumstances.”

Dougie Belmore, Championship Committee Convenor, said: “Extensive discussion and consultation has taken place with the various Championship and Competition Committee members, together with representatives from a wide range of Clubs at all levels of the game. Following this exercise, the clear agreed position is that, due to the unprecedented events currently unfolding globally, Season 2019/20 should be declared null and void. A number of alternative options have been explored in detail, with the majority of Clubs supporting this outcome.”

Scottish Rugby concluded its announcement by saying that it “would like to thank everyone who contributed to this extensive and important process at such a difficult time and thanks all clubs for their valuable insight and understanding in the conclusion of the 2019/20 season”.

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About David Barnes 3801 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Absolutely gutting for Biggar. Confirmed champs. Shame they couldn’t find an extra place in prem next season to honour the fact they had already earned their spot.

  2. Thinking further to my last comment (if received?) think all single promotions and relegations for top and bottom clubs only, would have been easily justifiable apart from the Premiership where the bottom was too close to call. Biggar going up to make two leagues of 11 would have resolved that one.

  3. Huge commiserations for clubs looking to progress, however some clubs have found themselves in a league too far and would be happy to drop down, possibly to save survival.

  4. Bit confused how a multi-option choice can be properly judged, when four options divide the “result required” camp, and one option covers the “null and void” camp.
    Was the result over 50%? – as the statement says “around half” and “the majority”.

    I would have thought a fairer consultation would have asked:
    Do you believe the 2019/20 season
    a) should be declared null and void.
    b) should be completed using an agreed formula.

    If b) wins then which formula is preferred.
    1. As table stands.
    2. All unplayed fixtures recorded as draws.
    3. An average points system calculated.
    4. Count as “double-headers”

    b) 2. Record as draws – would have got my vote.

    I am actually surprised that the competition rules don’t state “that when a match cannot be fulfilled due to exceptional circumstances, the result shall be recorded as a draw.”

  5. Scandalous that clubs who have already won their leagues and been presented with trophies are denied promotion.
    Happy to delay the directors bonuses and salaries but not the matches and decisions around promotions and demotions. One rule for some and not others.
    Both should be delayed or both declared null and void ?

  6. Tough call for Biggar but they’ll be dancing in the streets at Raeburn Place and Balgray this evening.

  7. Interesting

    The first I heard of the five options was today when I read the newsletter on Falkirk’s website.

    My club weren’t given these options. We were asked what we wanted to see happen. We went for league positions as is so it was one of the options as it turns out.

  8. Its a real pity that this had to happen but its understandable why it had to happen, it leaves me with a bad taste in the mouth but I agree with the SRU that its the right thing to do

  9. A great shame for the teams battling for a promotion but all things considered, not unreasonable.


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