Return to Play Updates - May 2020

May 15 2020

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World Rugby Cancels July Internationals; Irish Article Outlines Return Strategy - Follow NZ in Rugby and Other Sports Locally; Oakville Crusaders Rugby Club Featured in Local Paper

World Rugby

The World Rugby press release uses the word postponed but the July window is cancelled and it's unlikely the majority of these games will be rescheduled for a later date this year. Canada were to host Italy in July in Halifax. Australia were to host Ireland and New Zealand were to host Wales.

The programme of internationals scheduled within the July 2020 window has been postponed due to ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives.

Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.

Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and the respective authorities.

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Irish Rugby

A news article from Ireland seems to summarize the rugby return to play strategy for most northern hemisphere nations, watch how NZ's return to rugby progresses and watch how local sports, ahead in the queue, navigate the myriad of local issues. In Ireland rugby is placed in phase five which means a mid-August start at the earliest.

Being at the back of the queue might be a blessing in disguise for rugby as field sports make a gradual return.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shut down almost all sports globally, leaving individual sporting bodies with massive logistical issues to complete their schedules.

Rugby, due to the nature of the game, was placed in phase five of the Government's roadmap, with no chance of games taking place before 10 August, almost three full months away.

Similarly, Heineken Cup and Guinness Six Nations organisers are also hopeful of seeing some action, even if games take place behind closed doors.

If, how and when that happens all remains to be seen but what happens in New Zealand and how other sports in Ireland deal with possible returns may provide a template for rugby.

The five Super Rugby franchises in New Zealand – where the coronavirus failed to take a grip – will play in the Aotearoa tournament from mid-June to mid-August, all behind closed doors and with bespoke travel, training and match restrictions in place.

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Oakville Crusaders

Closer to home one of the largest Canadian rugby clubs, Oakville Crusaders, are struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 closures. The local Oakville paper ran an article outlining those issues.

The coronavirus outbreak forced the closure of the Oakville Crusaders rugby club. The club suspended all activities and the use of its facilities indefinitely, and this has had a direct impact on the club and its personnel.

To date, no member of the club has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The club has said they would deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis.

But the Crusaders are not giving up just yet.

The Board of Directors meet every Thursday to review the status of the club, as well as to focus on cost control, and provide steady communication with the club’s members. The club is continuing to operate as normally as possible, by continuing to work on their long-term strategy and plan for a possible season re-start.

The finances have taken a direct hit due to the club’s closure. The club has been able to reduce operating expenses, but fixed costs still need to be covered with limited cash reserves.

“In a typical year, our membership registers and pays annual membership dues, representing 75% of our annual revenues, during the months of March, April and May,” said club treasurer Chris Tudor Price. “However, in 2020, due to COVID-19, our annual membership revenues have decreased to almost nil. The remaining 25% of our revenues derived from camps, sponsorships and clubhouse events are also nil or significantly at risk this year.”

Aside from restructuring the club’s cash reserves, the Crusaders are appealing to the community to donate funds to support the club.

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