THERE will be no national league competitions in Scottish club rugby during the 2020-21 season due to the uncertainties caused by the Covid pandemic, with the four nation-wide men’s competitions being adapted into regional formats, and the specifics of how it will work to be announced after the next government update on 10th September (no later that 16th September).
The target is still a 31st October return date for club rugby, depending on the continued easing of lockdown restrictions. The format of the leagues is likely to be along similar lines to the recommendations for regionalised competitions which was put forward by Scottish Rugby at the start of July.
“The competitions vary slightly from one another and take account of the feedback received from the clubs, teams and players involved, as well as the Scottish Rugby Council’s recommendations,” said a correspondence issued by Murrayfield this afternoon.
“The Tennent’s Premiership with National League Division 1, and National League Division 2 with National League Division 3 teams, will be split across two competitions culminating in three finals at BT Murrayfield.
“The Women’s Tennent’s Premiership and Women’s National League Division 1 teams will participate in a single competition, which will also culminate in two finals at BT Murrayfield.
“Men’s and Women’s Regional Division teams will participate in a series of regional or local competitions.”
“Boys’ and girls’ schools and youth rugby will also be different as we support young players’ return to the game.
SRU President Ian Barr said that the plan put forward by the Council represents the best chance to kick-start Scottish club rugby this season.
“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, reaching the whole country, for rugby to resume when safe to do so,” he said.
“I know there has been a lot of hard work undertaken to reach this positive outcome against the backdrop of Covid-19 and while we can’t please everybody, as a Council we have listened and applied the principles of fairness and consistency throughout to develop a blended model of competition which we believe provides the right solution to the challenges we face.
“It is our best chance to kick-start Scottish rugby clubs back into action this season and I wish everyone well in the months ahead as we look forward to rugby being played again.”
Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development, Sheila Begbie, said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone that has participated in this process as it has been fundamental in shaping the competitions for both the men’s and women’s game as well as the boys’ and girls’ schools and youth game.
“Through this unprecedented period of uncertainty we have had excellent support and collaboration across the game in Scotland and can now share with all clubs how we can return to competitive rugby, in a sensible, safe and appropriate way in the months ahead.”