Scottish club season cancelled but no decision yet on promotion and relegation

Applications are open for the SRU's Club Hardship Fund, which aims to aid clubs which have been financially impacted by coronavirus

Marr topped the Premiership going into the play-offs but the coronavirus appears to have scuppered their title aspirations. Image: Ken Ferguson
Marr topped the Premiership going into the play-offs but the coronavirus appears to have scuppered their title aspirations. Image: Ken Ferguson

SCOTTISH RUGBY have joined Ireland, England and Wales in announcing that their domestic season has been cancelled in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

No decision has been made yet on how this will effect promotion and relegation between leagues. “This process will involve the Championship and Competitions Committees and the Scottish Rugby Council, with the aim to present a recommendation to the Scottish Rugby Board by the end of the month (March) as to the implications of various options for promotion, relegation and the awarding of league titles. A range of options are being considered in this regard,” explained a statement issued to clubs by the Scottish Rugby Union at 5pm this [Friday] evening.

The statement also confirmed that the cross-border competition between Scottish Super6 clubs and the top club side in Wales which was due to kick off at the end of April has been cancelled, as announced by the Welsh Rugby Union earlier in the afternoon.

The statement explained that:

Scottish Rugby’s preferred option to resume the season at an appropriate point is, regretfully, not a reasonable prospect in a safe and practical time frame, with further social restrictions on gatherings and travel an increasing possibility.

At the date of the interim suspension, there remained 295 domestic adult male league fixtures outstanding, with additional Cup, Shield and Bowl matches still to be completed (all being at the semi-final stage).

A number of age-grade competitions had also yet to be completed. For comparison, only 15 fixtures remained unplayed during the Foot and Mouth affected season of 2000/01.

Key factors in the decision to end the domestic season included:

  • The earliest possible restart date for contact rugby currently envisaged is 1 July 2020
  • Following a prolonged shutdown the players will require a full pre-season from that point to become first contact ready and then match fit
  • We would wish, if possible, for the current shutdown not to impinge on season 2020/21
  • If possible, to create space in the rugby calendar for postponed club events critical to revenue (such as sevens events or dinners) to be rescheduled before the start of new season. In order to facilitate this, where possible and subject to medical advice, a resumption of contact rugby would be permitted prior to the end of the normal Close Time period.

However, it should be noted that no decision on this is likely before the end of May at the earliest.

The women’s season takes place at a different time of year from the male season, with separate recommendations for the women’s 2020 season forthcoming.

Club Hardship Fund

The statement also revealed that the Club Hardship Fund (CHF) which was announced last Sunday is now open to applications. The fund is designed to provide grants to clubs to sustain their business during this unprecedented period and help them to continue to deliver rugby in Scotland.

“The CHF is intended to support clubs’ current costs and outgoings so that they can maintain operations from closedown on 15 March 2020 until 31 July 2020,” said the statement. “If the closedown period extends beyond this, Scottish Rugby will review the position of the CHF.

Clubs can ordinarily apply for up to a maximum of £5,000 from the CHF, though larger sums may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The deadline for applications is Thursday 30 April 2020.

Applications will be assessed and ranked by Scottish Rugby against the following six categories:

  • People – Impact on the full or part time staff required to maintain club continuity
  • Premises – Where non-payment of rent or mortgages would put the club at risk of losing playing facilities
  • Utilities – What mitigations a club has taken to lower these costs
  • Grounds – The need to maintain the grounds fit for playing purposes
  • Finance – Current financial position and cash reserves
  • Clubs in Areas of Deprivation – The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) identifies small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across all of Scotland where additional funding may be hard to come by.

Clubs are encouraged to read the Club Hardship Fund Guidelines documentation before starting the application process.

To access the dedicated online portal with all Club Hardship Fund information and documentation click HERE.


Welsh club season cancelled, including Super6 cross-border competition

Super6PWLDFADiffTBLBPts
Watsonians10820253185683237
Heriot's Rugby10730259190694234
Ayrshire Bulls10640216182344028
Southern Knights10451238204345427
Stirling County10361188254-663118
Boroughmuir Bears10190215354-1394311

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1775 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.

7 Comments

  1. I might be about 10 days late to this but heres my thoughts

    I might get a bit techy here okay just to warn you

    Looking at the bottom of the table, Dundee have 16 points with 2 games left to play vs Boroughmuirs 27 points and 4 games left to play, as far as I see it the best Dundee can do if they say win the next 2 matches with 4 tries each is 26 points, since there is 10 points left, while Boroughmuir have the possibility of having another 20 points left to them with 4 matches to play….

    Okay the techy stuff I mention in Paragraph 2

    If the bottom placed team cannot overtake the 11th positioned team with the matches they have in hand assuming best case conditions they win both matches they are automatically dropped from the league by default, and that only 1 team can come up for the next season….

    Assuming best case scenarios for Boroughmuir and they had gotten all 20 points they could be 7th on the table if they scored 28 points each match on 47 points putting Ayr into the drop zone

    What the SRU need to realise is that in a situation like this is if they use basic maths and assume best case scenarios for all teams at the bottom of the league they could predict where they could land up, Dundee HSFP best chance is 12th by default but Boroughmuirs best chance is 7th if they got a golden run of 4 successful matches on the trot

  2. I think the sentence in the announcement by Scottish Rugby is clear………..”Key factors in the decision to end the domestic season included:…” The season 2019/2020 season is over, not postponed, or put on hold or to be played at a later date.

  3. The have not declared the season null and void. Therefore I think that promotion and relegation should be on the current league standings.
    I don’t envy the championship and completions committees on whatever decision they make.

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    • How do you take into account teams that have played less games. For instance, we have played 6 games less than the team sitting in 1st, The team at the top have played the most games. Surely that would be unfair considering the team in 2nd are only 3 points behind them, yet have played 3 less games. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. I don’t eny them either.

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    • It’s a good point, Craig. Perhaps an equivalent of the Duckworth-Lewis method can be drawn up, to predict the final points tally based on form over the season? Whatever happens it will be unfair on some.

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    • Unless all teams have played the same number of games cant see how promotion and relegation can be awarded. Just have to bite the bullet, declare the season null and void and start from scratch whenever normality returns

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  4. For clarity the first sentence is a little misleading as the season hasn’t been “cancelled until further notice” it has ended. (Until further notice suggests there is a possibility it could continue).

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