Grassroots rugby union has been put on hold in the North West, but officials are hopeful of resuming the season in March if lockdown restrictions are lifted.
The alarming and continuing national rise in Covid infections, deaths and the R rate, which prompted the government to impose lockdown at the beginning of the month, has now put paid to hopes for fixtures to resume any time soon.
All adult and age grade rugby training stopped on January 4th with the imposition of the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.
However, officials of the Halbro North West Leagues, which hosts clubs in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside and Cumbria have announced new dates for the possible resumption of games, on March 6th and 13th, depending entirely on the easing of the highest tier of Covid restrictions before then.
More than 140 club sides are affected, from 79 clubs, and the news is a huge disappointment for players and officials throughout the region, although perfectly understandable according to Leagues Chairman Fred Swarbrick, who said: “We are all committed to protecting the health of our club members, players and officials, and fully support all measures that seek to stop this appalling virus in its tracks.
“That means no mixing on the pitch until such time as we receive the green light from the Government through the Rugby Football Union.”
As it stands, the January reorganisation of sides and future fixture plans should remain a ‘blueprint’ for play to resume in the spring.
The Leagues’ Fixtures Secretary John Powell said: “We are recommending that clubs use the planned fixtures as a model should league rugby not resume this season. Clubs will be free to decide whether or not to play, and there will be no penalties at all for not playing games. It has to be safety and common sense first.”