Director of Rugby Richard Thorpe has called on all at Chinnor RFC Thame to stick together following last week’s announcement from the Rugby Football Union.
An RFU statement has confirmed the cancellation of the Adult Competitive Leagues for the 2020/21 season.
This includes Level 3 and below for Men, and Level 2 and below for Women.
A statement issued by the RFU said it was a “difficult decision” made by the RFU Council and that “even if a return to full contact rugby becomes possible, playing a meaningful competitive league season resulting in promotion and relegation is no longer feasible.”
It continued: “Given the Government’s additional restrictions to curb the increase in COVID-19 cases in locations across the country, and growing concerns around travelling significant distances outside immediate localities to fulfil fixtures due to increased risk of transmission, the decision has been made now so we can provide clubs with some certainty for the remainder of the season.”
Despite no competitive rugby being played since March, all at Chinnor RFC Thame have been working hard to ensure Kingsey Road remains a positive place to be for players, members, volunteers and supporters.
Training will continue at Stage D on the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap, while we will only strive to strengthen our ‘One Club’ ethos to ensure we come through this challenging period as One Chinnor Family.
Kingsey Road will, of course, continue to be open, providing a service to our local community in compliance with the government guidelines, with our planned events, including next weekend’s Chinnor Social 10s, still going ahead.
Chinnor RFC Thame Director of Rugby, Richard Thorpe said: “Once again our Club has received deeply disappointing news – this time that we will not play competitive rugby in the 2020/21 season.
“Earlier this evening, following the RFU’s press release, I notified our Senior Squad via our squad WhatsApp group. Whilst this news is deeply disappointing to each and every one of them, their immediate response has been truly inspiring.
“The players have already made it clear that they will continue building our new Club culture. One that is not only fun and welcoming, but also one where we challenge each other to work hard, develop and become better rugby players.
“They have also acknowledged the work we have done to bring our whole Club closer together. We have already seen engagement between the Senior Squad and the Wildboys, Kites, Colts, Juniors and Minis sections of the Club. This is an area we will continue to develop. Our vision to be ‘One Club’ is well and truly under way.
“We all wish we were able to return to competitive rugby, but when we consider what we’ve achieved so far this season – in the toughest of circumstances – and where we plan to go, bringing us all together at the same time, it seems Chinnor could very well come out of this pandemic stronger than its ever been.”
Please see below for the full statement from the RFU:
The RFU Council has made the difficult decision to cancel the Adult Competitive Leagues (Level 3 and below for Men, Level 2 and below for Women) for the 2020/21 season.
We believe that, even if a return to full contact rugby becomes possible, playing a meaningful competitive league season resulting in promotion and relegation is no longer feasible.
Given the Government’s additional restrictions to curb the increase in COVID-19 cases in locations across the country, and growing concerns around travelling significant distances outside immediate localities to fulfil fixtures due to increased risk of transmission, the decision has been made now so we can provide clubs with some certainty for the remainder of the season.
The Championship remains on course to start in January 2021, with this league subject to Government’s Elite Return to Play protocols.
WHAT RUGBY CAN WE PLAY?
We have been in daily contact with Government about moving towards some form of contact rugby that will enable as many matches to take place as possible.
Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director, said:“We are very keen to see competitive rugby being played again and have been pushing extremely hard to accelerate a return to contact rugby. However, we also need to be realistic about the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in society and, given the introduction of further regional restrictions, we are working with Government to create alternative solutions.
“Progress has been made following productive conversations with DCMS and the Office of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer who have shown a willingness to work with the RFU to explore other available options.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I know that today’s decision from the RFU will be disappointing to players and fans across the country however protecting people’s health is absolutely paramount. The government is continuing to work closely with the RFU on ways in which we can bring the competitive, community game back in some form ahead of a return to full contact as soon as the public health situation allows.”
Steve Grainger added: “While many people have looked forward to contact rugby returning, we are receiving more and more feedback from clubs and players that adaptations would be acceptable. There is an increasing appetite to play an adapted format of rugby rather than having no fixtures at all.
“We will do everything we can to enable the rugby community to return to contact play as soon as we can, but our priority is to keep players, coaches, referees and volunteers safe. We will provide an update to our community clubs as soon as we can. We would like to once again thank everyone for their incredible efforts in implementing the necessary changes and for their continued support in keeping formats of rugby going during this challenging season.”
The NCA has also responded to the RFU’s announcement.
NCA Chairman, John Inverdale said: ‘The NCA executive had recommended this course of action and is relieved, albeit very reluctantly, that everyone operating at levels 3 and 4 now understands the situation.
“We are still very optimistic that some form of competitive rugby for NCA clubs this season will be proposed in the immediate future, to enable players, supporters and commercial partners, the opportunity to get back into the rugby environment.
“Talks are ongoing with the Government, and the NCA exec is doing everything possible to make sure that clubs at our level are able to plan for the next six months, from a rugby playing perspective, but also to enable clubs to reboot commercially.”