Post Covid Rugby ?

The Krakow Rugby Festival 2020 was postponed at first but eventually cancelled due to the pandemic. We waited as long as possible but to no avail, it had to be cancelled along with the rest of the world in fact. That meant around 10 million players, men, women, boys, girls, professional and amateurs, registered and non-registered were all told to stay at home, a complete stop to all rugby activities. The Coronavirus being highly contagious and rugby a full contact sport it was clear that the interruption was warranted but how and when will it return?

The KRF 2021 is open for teams to register and the good news is that a vaccine has been approved and should alleviate and render the virus more manageable by June 2021. However, in the meantime we are witnessing different levels of difficulty especially for local community teams and financial solvency for higher league teams. Recent changes in C-19 protocols are allowing up to 2,000 spectators to tier 1 matches but for the lower levels and community teams returning to play games but with significant changes as scrums and mauls are not permitted. This will discriminate against the amount of forwards who will be needed for a game of rugby. As we see in rugby 7s the players are more like backs as running is the main tactic, therefore, front and 2nd row powerhouses are not considered essential for 7s and undoubtedly 15s without the pack of forwards rucking and scrummaging will likely alienate them on match day choices. Only the Gallagher Premier League is allowed to continue normally and with spectators whereas tier 2 and 3 teams will struggle with the present RFU COVID rulings

Grassroots and community rugby will also see a drop in returning players under the new RFU rules, this was also happening before the virus struck for men’s teams, however, women’s rugby statistics show a notable increase in players coming into the game. Certain new regulations were introduced to allow community rugby teams to play with less than 15 players as sometimes teams found it difficult to muster a full team every week which permitted games to continue even if it was 12-a-side. When rugby returns to normal playing standards there will have been many changes to the league systems as the pandemic may have forced teams to disappear, merge with other clubs and re-arrange local leagues with geographical relevance which in turn might affect promotion and relegation rulings due to it. Streamlining will be a major factor for future grassroots and community rugby.

The RFU reported a loss of over £100 million and predict a total of £145 due to the C-19 lockdown period and it is going to continue until the situation rights itself. The Guinness 6 Nations tournament was interrupted but playing the remaining fixtures behind closed doors which prevents the revenue from 80,000 spectators that England rugby get at Twickenham every game. Local clubs are running charity drives and raising funds to keep their clubs afloat. It is hard to say at the moment how many players will drift away from the game as the full impact and consequences are yet to be seen. Everyone is raring to get back playing and the sooner the better they all say.

This pandemic has halted rugby playing worldwide and only the most senior and international games being played under extreme C-19 safety conditions with the so-called bubble grouping which involves rigid regulations that some players could find stressful to deal with. The good news is the announcement of the much awaited roll out of the vaccine which is due to commence. Even though it will take time to monitor the effectiveness and more importantly enable all the health services to contain and control it easier. So, by the summer of 2021 the majority of rugby tournaments will be up and running just like the Krakow Rugby Festival 2021 will be which is always held on the 3rd weekend of June. Get in touch and request the info pack and start planning your end of season club tour with the KRF that has the essential social ingredients of why you play rugby the passion, the rugby spirit and unlimited beer and cider for the whole weekend among other attractions.