With most domestic competitions either Postponed, Suspended or Canceled, the Covid-19 risk is just too high for stakeholders fight the Pandemic outbreak. Sport comes second, when player welfare is on the line.
So even if the NRL 2020 Telstra Premiership and a small group of competitions defy the mainstream logic to play in front of empty stadiums, rugby union has the leadership to know when to ‘hold em, and know when to fold em’. [Kenny Rogers tribute]
When to walk away is another discussion altogether.
Some have already called time on fixtures after discussions with participants. Others are acting on advice from the Government, and Ministry of Health authorities. All reacting to an ever-changing situation, that sees all English Rugby on hold, until further notice.
The below news item is just a simple illustration of the times; of who is postponed, suspended or in some sports cases, canceled.
Covid-19 risk just too high for Rugby Union stakeholders
This would have been round eight of Super Rugby, round 14 of the Premiership. The Guinness PRO14 championship would have begun its 14th round, yet all of these domestic competitions are ‘up in the air’.
Coronavirus: Guinness Pro14 final is cancelled https://t.co/NHtC9EhVBb
— #rugbyscotland 🏉🏴 (@RugbySco) March 20, 2020
The PRO14 has gone the furthest of all, in suspending their season indefinitely. Going as far as canceling the June 20 Grand Final, so that any resumption in the competition could see an abridged competition run…..but, like all rugby, Covid-19 related restrictions on both gatherings and travel have put everything on hold.
In judging who has halted competition, and who may be continuing theirs with strict conditions, any judgment should be placed aside. If rugby league, Aussie rules or AFL soccer wish to perform in empty arenas, then that is their call. Unique, and possibly an option for individual conferences in Super Rugby – but certainly, that is not the norm.
The list of domestic and international competitions affected is now longer than most rugby fans would like to admit. For the better of course. No stakeholder would want players, management or spectators to be put at risk. And with the Covid-19 news firstly out of China, and now spreading rapidly throughout Europe, America, and the rest of the World, it is very real.
So every one of the competitions listed below has done the absolute right thing.
Basketball – NBA, Europe and China.
Motorsport – Formula One season, V8 Supercars, NHRA drag racing (USA), and IndyCar
Football – EPL, Major League Soccer, La Ligue, Serie A, Copa America, UEFA Euro 2020
Other sports – French Open, IPL cricket, 2020 PGA Championship, Boston Marathon
Rugby – Gallagher Premiership, Guinness PRO14, French Top 14, European Professional Club Rugby, Super Rugby, and many other club level competitions have been upset
- Rugby Sevens – Hong Kong/Singapore leg, London/Paris leg, Langford 7s
While news from the Southern Hemisphere is of individual Super Rugby conferences to run a ‘local derby competition’ to maintain engagement with fans, those plans are contingent with restrictions and player welfare. Player associations are involved in all discussions and planning is subject to changes in both regulations nationally, and arbitrarily due to franchise/player availability.
In these times of professionalism, wages and revenue streams may dictate much of the strategies and tactics. Yet, while a competition like major League Rugby considers alternative eSports competitions, to maintain player/fan engagement, others are thinking of their ‘bottom line’. Not every player has the support structure in place to live with no – or newly renegotiated – wages.
So for every player who wants to perform, for every club that needs to operate to stay liquid, the fundamental choice is ……stay safe. Look after your health, those around you, and follow health warnings and protocols.
Surely, there has never been a more concerning time in sport, than in the Covid-19 era.
“Main photo credit”
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