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.