The Ottawa Aces XIII announced on November 5th that they will not play in the 2021 Betfred League 1 season. Instead, they will play in the 2022 League 1 season.
The Ottawa Aces XIII Plan to Play in 2022
— Ottawa Aces (@ottawaaces) November 5, 2020
The Ottawa Aces XIII has decided not to play games in the 2021 League 1 season. A big reason is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic issues in both Ontario and the United Kingdom. This is the Ottawa Aces XIII public statement on these issues:
“This decision was not taken lightly and is due to the ongoing proliferation of COVID-19 cases across the UK, and increasing numbers across Ontario, that cast doubt on the ability to travel freely between Canada and the UK in 2021.”
The Aces also later mentioned that they will “focus on bringing professional Rugby League to TD Place Stadium in 2022.”
According to Adam Carter of CBC News, Ontario had 998 COVID-19 cases on November 5th. However, it is important to note that only 45 of these new cases are in the nation’s capital, Ottawa. The coronavirus pandemic issue in the United Kingdom is quite tragic according to Reuters of the National Post. Great Britain had reported on November 5th, 24,141 new cases of COVID-19.
Overview of the Ottawa Aces XIII News
It is unfortunate that the Ottawa Aces XIII will not play in 2021. This is especially true for the players who signed with the Aces expecting to play in 2021. However, at the same time, it makes sense. The Aces will probably want to make a big splash in their home opener.
For example, when the Toronto Wolfpack played their home opener in 2017 against Oxford Rugby League 2017, they drew 6,281 fans. The Wolfpack also got attention from major Canadian and Toronto newspapers for their first-ever home game.
— Toronto Wolfpack (@TOwolfpack) May 6, 2017
The Aces though have a larger stadium than the Wolfpack. TD Place Stadium, where the Aces will play has a capacity of 24,000. They can theoretically still draw a similar number of fans as the Wolfpack with social distancing in the stadium. However, it is important to note that only a limited number of fans are going to attend games.
For example, on August 20th, the Montreal Impact hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer action at Saputo Stadium (Stade Saputo). In that game, there were only 250 fans in a 20,000 seat stadium.
It is possible that these restrictions will remain for at least part of 2021. According to The Associated Press of CBC, Great Britain is hoping for a vaccine to be approved in December 2020. This is while Canada is hoping to get an approved vaccine in the first quarter of 2021. However, only a few groups of people like the elderly will get these early vaccines initially.
Does this mean no Canadian professional rugby league teams will play in 2021?
This is a question that is quite possible, but not answered yet. Remember the Wolfpack still has a chance to play in 2021. Yes, they have not been accepted to play in Super League in 2021. This decision was made a few days ago. However, they could still theoretically play in the Championship or even League 1 in 2021.
It is important to note that most of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases come from Toronto. According to Carter of CBC News, Toronto had 350 cases on November 5th.
2020 has been a bad year for professional rugby league in Canada and 2021 might be the same. The Aces announced that they will not play in 2021. Furthermore, the Wolfpack club’s future is in limbo after not being accepted into Super League for 2021. Only time will tell what happens but hopefully, Wolfpack finds a way to survive and play in either the Championship or League 1.
Toronto Wolfpack, proudly bringing "no value" to the game since 2017.
Thanks to everyone who has been a part of the incredible journey.♥️
Music – Bryan Adams, Summer of 69 (A&M Records) pic.twitter.com/e1WS4y0IyT
— Toronto Wolfpack (@TOwolfpack) November 5, 2020
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images