COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it and many of us across the world are sitting patiently inside until the horrible pandemic passes. Sport, often a leisurely activity for most, has stopped in a way like never before.
The Rugby Football Union recently announced that competitions below the Gallagher Premiership would have their season ended, a month before the ‘usual’ end. The IPA Championship can be known as the Premiership’s baby brother, sat in the background of the shining lights of top-flight English rugby. Their 2021 season will be changed like no other, not just with COVID-19, but also with their funding from the RFU being cut.Embed from Getty Images
So how are Championship clubs coping with the hold on rugby, and what position does it put the clubs in ready for next season? London Scottish’s Media Manager, Jessica Tolkien spoke about the impact the abrupt end of the season has had on the London club.
“It is quite difficult not having those final four matches at home, we haven’t played at home since February and the boys haven’t played a game since March.
“We haven’t won at home this year; our last home win was in November so as a team we wanted to come out for those last four matches at home and put out quite dominant displays and come away with some final wins.”
Across the country many businesses have placed large parts of their workforce on furlough and London Scottish have had to make the call to do so as well.
“My job as a Media Manager and doing things such as announcing coaches and players and keeping the social media running means that I haven’t been put on furlough.
“My work hasn’t changed too much because I am still proudcing content throughout the week, it’s mainly just on weekends where we now don’t have any games.
“Currently, all our playing squad have been furloughed and the majority of our staff.”
The Championship clubs now have time to focus ahead to next season and arguably have more time to put plans in place to ensure that they are doing the best for their playing squad, supporters and members of staff.
“The early end to the season has given us the opportunity to look ahead to next season and put in a plan; especially with the RFU announcing their funding cuts to the Championship for next season we have had to come up with a new plan of action.
“We are going to be going part time next season but it has given us an opportunity to plan; we have recently announced our coaching team and in the forthcoming weeks we will be announcing our playing squad, so it is difficult but we have been able to cope with it.”
It is never an easy option to make the difficult decision to cancel games, but London Scottish were one of the first clubs to announce a game cancelation at the start of the pandemic.
“The supporters that we have at London Scottish and age demographic is quite elderly, we don’t get as many youngsters coming to matches or signing up as members so that is something that we as a club have taken into consideration.
“One of the reasons that we cancelled our match against Hartpury was because we didn’t want to put our members at risk.”
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🚨 MATCH POSTPONED 🚨 Statement on London Scottish v @hartpuryrugby Greene King IPA Championship Fixture – 14 March 2020. The Greene King IPA Championship match between London Scottish and Hartpury due to take place tomorrow Saturday 14th March, has been postponed. This is as a result of the wider issues surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. This is a decision that has been taken in the best interests of our members, players and coaching staff from both sides; plus all fans that would have attended tomorrow’s fixture. Discussions on rescheduling the game will take place in due course and an update provided when possible. Regarding refunds for tickets and hospitality booked for the match tomorrow please contact Laura Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Premiership season could potentially restart in the coming months and play out fixtures behind closed doors. Even with this small-scale continuation of matches, the Premiership will still receive financial benefits, something that the Championship sides won’t be party to.
“I think that all clubs will feel frustrated at the prospect that we won’t be able to finish our season, not only for the players, but we could have improved our final position in the table; and also, the financial aspect of playing the remainder of the games.
“It would be frustrating that the Premiership might get to continue to make money if their season would be re-started, but the Championship wouldn’t and we will have to wait until next season.”
No one knows when the 2021 season will begin and many of us are waiting in anticipation for the joyous announcement of when that first fixture will be.
“The club cannot wait to be back out on the pitch and playing matches again. We share a pitch with Richmond and they have been promoted back into the Championship so now we will have a really good derby with them.
“With Saracens also coming into the Championship, there will be quite a few London based clubs so it will be nice having some more local matches.
“We are all looking forward to the closeness that the game has and all the players mingling and having a good time and having a pint together; I know the boys can’t wait for their first game back!”
London Scottish, like all sporting clubs and fans across the country are excited to enjoy their sport again and one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, rugby will continue.