Update on Senior Rugby Competitions - Friday 18 March 2022
Premier Men’s & Premier Women’s to begin April 2nd
Premier 2, Under 21, Under 85kg, Reserve & Presidents grades to begin no earlier than April 16th
Thank you for the regular updates, questions you are posing and feedback on season starts. It’s clear the impacts on your Clubs are ever changing, and that any form of unanimous agreement is unlikely. Additionally, we are keeping a close eye on Government announcements and starting contingency planning for possible changes to the COVID-19 Protection Framework.
The purpose of this update is to provide clarity on the Senior Club Rugby season start, and timeframes for further decisions. We appreciate there is a desire for more clarity for your conversations with players, coaches, and supporters etc, and hope this information will give you all the comfort to begin Premier rugby with the knowledge other grades will follow in the coming weeks.
Premier Men’s Swindale Shield
The Swindale Shield competition will begin on Saturday April 2nd as per the previously published draw. Having spoken with Clubs this week there is a clear consensus (but not unanimous view) that this should occur. This decision will be ratified by the Rugby Board on March 24th and will consider all the latest information available.
Provisions are being finalised to ensure that any impacts of COVID are factored into regulations and match day protocols. These include criteria that could result in matches needing to be postponed or cancelled. These will be ratified by the Rugby Board on March 24th.
If the season start is postponed, or we need to take a break during the season, the season would be shortened, rather than rescheduled this would be by virtue of removing weeks from the second round Jubilee/Hardham competitions prioritising the completion of a full first round Swindale Shield.
At this stage we are preparing for the season to begin under the red setting and with the current gathering limits of 100 people. This won’t be business as usual and will require Clubs to check My Vaccine Passes of players, coaches/managers and officials.
Premier Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Cup
The Rebecca Liua’ana Cup competition will begin on Saturday April 2nd and the draw will be published on Monday 28th March. This decision will also be ratified by the Rugby Board on March 24th and will consider all the latest information available.
Due to the RWC2021 (being played in 2022) the Farah Palmer Cup begins earlier than usual. As such we need to finish this grade by the end of June.
Beginning April 2nd will give this grade 13 playing weeks. In the event of a delayed start or a break being required once the competitions started any lost weekends would have to be cancelled with no opportunity for rescheduling.
Like the Men’s Premier competition provisions are being finalised to ensure that any impacts of COVID are factored into regulations and match day protocols. This includes a decision that no amateur players will be required to play mid-week matches, or more than one match in any six-day period.
All Other Senior Grades
Presently all other Senior grades (Premier 2, Under 21, Under 85kg, Reserve and Presidents) will not begin on April 2nd. It is expected these will begin no earlier than Saturday 16 April.
It is the intention that these seasons would remain the same length as they would have been by playing slightly later into the season (but finishing no later than the end of August).
Between 2-April and the start of these remaining senior grades, WRFU will make grounds available for any pre-season matches to assist Clubs prepare for a season start.
A decision on when these should start will be made in principle at the March 24th Rugby Board meeting and reconfirmed in early-April.
March 24 Rugby Board ratify Premier Men and/or Women’s grades starts
April 2nd Premier Men & Women’s grades begin (unless determined otherwise)
Early-April Rugby Board confirm start date for all other Senior grades
No earlier than 16 April Remaining Senior grades to begin
We appreciate these are challenging times, and that Clubs are in different situations but believe it’s important that we at least “open the shop window” to show community rugby is possible, albeit on a reduced basis to begin.
As always, should you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the Community Rugby team.