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Scottish rugby season declared null-and-void due to coronavirus pandemic

By Craig Christie

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THE Scottish domestic rugby season has been declared null-and-void due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Moray Rugby Club had already completed their season, which has now been declared null-and-void
Moray Rugby Club had already completed their season, which has now been declared null-and-void

Play had been halted last month, with the season officially closed this week based on Government advice in relation to the Covid-19 virus.

Scottish Rugby made the call to wipe out all of the season's results, joining its Irish, Welsh and Italian counterparts in coming to this outcome.

Both Moray Rugby Club and Banff Rugby Club had already completed their programme in the Tennent's Caledonia North Region League Division 2.

Banff ended their schedule in fifth position while Moray were sixth, just above the bottom two, North Police and Ross Sutherland who still had games left to try and escape the two relegation places.

In Division 3, RAF Lossiemouth had looked on course for the title as they topped the table with seven wins from their nine outings, leading the way from Kinloss Eagles in second and Huntly RFC in third.

The null-and-void decision means there will be no automatic promotion or relegation for the domestic campaign. It was reached following an extensive consultation process involving the participating clubs, the Championship and Competition Committee members and Scottish Rugby’s own Rugby Development Department.

Five possible scenarios were presented, with around half of clubs favouring the null and void option. The remaining clubs were split between the other four options. The second most favoured option - finishing the season based on the league positions at the time of shutdown - received the support of around a quarter of clubs.

Further to the club consultation, the declaration of a null and void season was recommended by the Convenor of the Championship Committee, the Reserve League Committee Chair and the Chair of the Women’s Competition Committee.

Their recommendation was supported by Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development.

A paper summarising the consultation process, the possible season-ending options and containing a recommendation from Championship Convenor, the Reserve League Chair and the Women’s Competition Chair was provided to Scottish Rugby Council for consideration and feedback.

The Council’s endorsement of the proposal was then ratified by the Scottish Rugby Board in its role to oversee the best interests of the game, with authority then granted to the Championship Committee to bring the recommendation into force.

Scottish Rugby President Dee Bradbury said: “It was clear from the outset that, in terms of the consequential impact on the various leagues in terms of promotion/relegation there would be no “right” solution, particularly once it was clear that our preferred option of completing the season would no longer be possible.

“Every solution we looked at was likely to be problematic in some way - none was likely to be supported by everyone. It was therefore considered essential that the full range of options were explored, each potential option was sense checked and that, as far as possible, a broad consensus was reached across the game as to the most appropriate outcome.

“We fully accept some clubs will be disappointed with this decision and share their frustration that, for wider societal reasons beyond our control, their hard work to push for success this season hasn't yielded the rewards they deserve.”

Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development Sheila Begbie said: “It was important we went through a thorough process to canvass opinion and offer a range of options for how the season could be concluded.

“I would like to thank all the clubs that contributed to this process and for their valuable input. I know the Competitions Committees and Convenors have put in a huge amount of time to ensure there was a credible outcome for every club, and while there are obviously clubs who will be disappointed, I believe this is a fair solution for everyone in these unprecedented circumstances.”

Dougie Belmore, Championship Committee Convenor said: “Extensive discussion and consultation has taken place with the various Championship and Competition Committee members, together with representatives from a wide range of Clubs at all levels of the game.

"Following this exercise, the clear agreed position is that, due to the unprecedented events currently unfolding globally, season 2019/20 should be declared null-and-void.

A number of alternative options have been explored in detail, with the majority of clubs supporting this outcome.”

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