Scottish 2019/20 season declared null and void

Scottish 2019/20 season declared null and void

The 2019/20 domestic rugby season in Scotland has been classified as null and void, with Scottish Rugby joining its Irish, Welsh and Italian counterparts in coming to this outcome.

This decision follows the earlier interim suspension and then final closure of the season based on Government advice in relation to the Covid-19 virus and is being issued today, 31 March in line with the previous objective of informing clubs by the end of the month.

The decision to declare the 2019/20 season null and void – meaning there will be no automatic promotion/relegation - 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.”

Scottish Rugby would like to thank everyone who contributed to this extensive and important process at such a difficult time and thanks all clubs for their valuable insight and understanding in the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does concluding the season mean?

    In short, there will be no further Scottish Rugby league or cup competitions (adult and youth) for season 2019/20. The current suspension of all domestic rugby (which includes both training and playing) will remain in place until further notice. For the avoidance of doubt this suspension also includes any rugby tours into and out of Scotland.

  • The Scottish Cup along with many other Cup Competitions were not yet completed. Will these be concluded when the government restrictions are lifted?

    No, the season 2019/20 has been permanently closed following advice from the government and with the welfare of all players, coaches, club members and supporters in mind. Whilst it is regrettable, any restart of contact rugby will require a significant period of conditioning and training, with players requiring the equivalent of a full “pre-season” from that point to become “contact ready” and then match fit. Such a ‘pre-season’ cannot (and should not) happen quickly which, leaves little or no spare time ahead of the normal dates to start the new 20/21 season.

  • What is Scottish Rugby’s decision regarding promotion / relegation and league titles?

    At the request of the Championship Committee Convenor (supported by the Reserve League Committee Chair and the Women’s Competition Committee Chair), and having canvassed the views of the Competition Committees and participating clubs, and with the support of the Scottish Rugby Council, season 2019/20 has been declared “null and void”. There will therefore be no promotion or relegation throughout all Scottish Rugby domestic rugby leagues this Season. In coming to this decision, the Championship Committee sympathises in particular with the small number of clubs which at the time of closure were on the verge of promotion.

    The Championship and Competitions Committees consulted widely on this matter amongst participating clubs. Around half of respondents were in favour of treating the season as being Null & Void. The remaining 50% were split over the four other options considered, with the second most popular option (using the league positions at the time of closure) receiving support from a quarter of respondents. All other options received significantly less support.

    All members of the Championship and Competition Committees accept that this has been a challenging decision to make, and is due to the unprecedented nature of the environment we find ourselves in. The decision was not taken lightly, and the Championship and Competition Committees considered all teams across all leagues when making their recommendation to the Scottish Rugby Council and Board. They have adopted a clear, consistent and straightforward approach across all leagues in the interest of the game as a whole across the country. The Championship and Competition Committees recognise the impact that this decision will have on all teams as well as the potential impact to season 2020/21.

  • Season 19/20 was tough for our club. Can we ask to be relegated?

    The Championship Committee is aware that there may be a small number of teams who may wish to be relegated after this past season. Should a team at the bottom of their respective league table at the time of the season closure believe that to continue to play in the same league in season 20/21 would be detrimental to player welfare / player retention they can apply to their Competition Committee to be moved into the league below.

  • Why couldn’t those teams who had mathematically already won their leagues prior to the season being suspended be promoted?

    To promote those teams who have mathematically won their league (without artificially relegating teams in the division above) would change the format of some competitions (e.g. creating an 11 team Premiership next season). Under Bye Law 14.2.3 a change the format of the Premiership and National Leagues would require a three-stage process of consultation, Council approval and approval from the Clubs in General Meeting to be followed. In the current situation it is not possible to hold a General Meeting.

  • Why was the Championship Committee asked to make a recommendation to the Council and Board?

    Under the National Competition Rules the Scottish Rugby Board is assisted in the organisation and administration of the National and Regional competitions by the Championship Committee, who in turn are assisted by the Regional and other Competition Committees. Those Committees include members nominated by clubs. The Championship and Competition Committees canvassed the views of their clubs. The “null and void” option was favoured by significantly more clubs than any of the other options. Based on the responses from the clubs the Championship Convenor, the Reserve League Chair and the Women’s Competition Committee Chair therefore requested that Season 19/20 be treated as being “null & void”.

  • Why can’t any remaining games not be played ahead of the new season?

    The earliest we anticipate the suspension to end will be 1 July 2020 after which players will require to train in order to be match fit and contact ready ahead of their pre-season. That date remains uncertain just now. It is anticipated that training and pre-season will be over a 6-8 week period at which point season 2020/21 will commence. Further details regarding season 2020/21 will be shared with clubs in due course when further information is known regarding when we can expect any or all government restrictions to be reduced.

  • There is an odd number of teams in some of the leagues?

    Given the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in the Championship Competition Committee and other Competition Committees will work together to create a competition format for season 2020/21 that reflects the size of each league. Ahead of season 2021/22 a review will be undertaken in order to resolve any complications created as a result of the unprecedented situation we currently face.

  • Can games not be played when the government restrictions are lifted?

    The earliest we anticipate the suspension to end will be 1 July 2020 after which players will require a full pre-season from that point to become first contact ready and then match fit and so we’ll continue to monitor the situation and update all Scottish Rugby channels when further information is available.

  • Can clubhouses still open?

    Rugby Clubs must observe all current Government restrictions. We urge all clubs to monitor the latest guidance issued by the Government and only when any restrictions are relaxed or lifted should Rugby Clubs consider opening their clubhouses.

  • Can clubs still use/open their own gyms over this time?

    Rugby Clubs must observe all current Government restrictions. We urge all clubs to monitor the latest guidance issued by the Government and only when any restrictions are relaxed or lifted should Rugby Clubs consider opening their gyms.

  • What have other Unions done?

    The IRFU announced on 19 March that season 2019/20 was to be concluded with immediate effect and there will be no promotion or relegation in any of the five divisions of the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League.

    On 20 March it was announced that the RFU was to end the 2019/20 rugby season for all league, cup and county rugby in England. They are working through the implications of ending the season early and have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game.

    The WRU have, as the IRFU have done, have concluded their domestic rugby leagues and there will be no promotion or relegation.

  • Our team did not play at the weekend before the suspension came into effect, will we be sanctioned for not playing?

    No. Our Competition Committees will exercise their discretion not to apply any penalty.

  • When and how will clubs be updated regarding the ongoing training/playing suspension?

    The situation will be closely monitored during the period of suspension and when further updates are available they will be shared with all clubs via Club Comms (email) as well on all Scottish Rugby web and social channels.

  • If a player trains or plays over this period of suspension will they/we still be covered by the insurance?

    In short, yes- however to train or play over this period of suspension will be considered to be an act of Misconduct under the Disciplinary Rules and will be referred to the Discipline Manager for action.

    We would encourage all players and coaches to use this time to work on individual strength and conditioning within the bounds of Government restrictions on social distancing.

  • A team that had a league/cup fixture scheduled have already incurred travel costs, can they still reclaim money through the Travel Scheme?

    Yes, clubs should complete the Travel Scheme Claim Form and forward, along with the invoices and receipts, to [email protected]

  • When will the next season start?

    Planning and contingency planning is now underway in respect of season 2020/21. Further details will be provided on this in due course.

  • How many clubs are directly impacted by this decision?

    All clubs participating in Scottish Rugby competitions are directly impacted by this decision. The Male Adult Leagues were not yet completed at the time of the suspension and therefore many clubs still had fixtures to fulfil and many still had the potential to finish in promotion positions as well as many that were still playing to avoid relegation. There were 5 clubs who had mathematically ‘won’ their league and having worked to push for success this season won’t see the benefit of such efforts, they will undoubtably be disappointed.

  • Have any of the affected clubs been consulted directly on this outcome?

    All clubs were offered the opportunity to feedback to their Competition Committees as to how the season should be concluded. We accept that in some circumstances some clubs will be frustrated that their preferred opinion has not been carried forward however a broad consensus was reached having sought input from all clubs across all regions and leagues.

  • What does this mean for the FOSROC Super6 Tournament?

    The FOSROC Super6 tournament has also been concluded early. As the FOSROC Super6 competition was not concluded and had yet to be completed at the time that the suspension came into effect. Although there was a club who finished top of the league when the season was concluded, the format of the competition was in two Stages with the league used to decided seedings and home advantage for the semi-finals and the Tournament winner coming through the agreed semi-final and final stages. This is consistent with all other competitions run under the auspices of Scottish Rugby.

  • Can the FOSROC Super6 Tournament be completed once the suspension has been lifted?

    The earliest we anticipate the suspension to end will be 1 July 2020 after which players will require a full pre-season from that point to become first contact ready and then match fit and so we’ll continue to monitor the situation and update all Scottish Rugby channels when further information is available.

  • What about the Women’s Leagues that were completed in December 2019, are they too Null and Void?

    No, the Women’s 2019 season is unaffected by this decision as all competitions had been finalised and completed in December 2019.

  • Does Null and Void also mean that the Mitsubishi Schools and Youth conference results are Null and Void?

    No, the Mitsubishi Schools and Youth conferences are unaffected by this decision as all competitions had been finalised and completed in December 2019.

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