The WRU have followed the lead of their Irish and English counterparts by cancelling the remainder of the 2019/20 grassroots season in Wales due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Irish rugby shut down on Thursday night, with England doing likewise on Friday morning for all rugby below Gallagher Premiership level.
Freddie Burns takes RugbyPass through his fitness regime during the coronavirus lockdown
Now the Welsh have followed suit, the WRU deciding at a board meeting that all league and cup competitions have been called off – including the new cross-border tournament that was due to commence with Scottish clubs in April.
Explaining their decision, a WRU statement outlined: “In addition to rugby considerations, a presentation from medical staff addressed three key health and well-being factors:
- Continuing to play brings with it transmission risks for players, coaches, referees, volunteers and supporters;
- Some competitions require medical support and doctors in attendance;
- Continuing to play brings with it the risk of adding to the unprecedented burden on the NHS and it would be socially irresponsible to do this.
“A review of the competitions was also considered with the key points being:
- No team in any league is currently mathematically guaranteed promotion or relegation;
- There are 1,113 WRU Specsavers National League and Indigo Group Premiership games that would need to be played to complete league competitions;
- An absolute minimum of eight weeks would be required to complete the outstanding fixtures.
“A significant number of potential solutions were explored, but ultimately it was agreed that the only consistent and fair option is to cancel the season, meaning:
- There will be no promotion or relegation in any of the WRU leagues and teams will remain in the league they are currently in;
- Rugby activity remains suspended until further notice and this includes no organised training or games, use of club gym facilities, organised sessions or unsanctioned gatherings at rugby premises.”
WRU CEO Martyn Phillips added: “We are well aware of the colossal amount of effort that goes into our game, on and off the field, across Wales. We did not take this decision lightly. It is not intended to in any way diminish the games that have already taken place or the efforts of everyone involved.
“We were particularly aware of the impact on clubs with the potential to be promoted or win competitions but in the end, we have had to make the decision to ensure we play our part in safeguarding Welsh communities.
“We know clubs will be disappointed but also hope they will be understanding, given the circumstances. We know that rugby clubs are facing extraordinary challenges at the moment.
“We will continue to look at all options to ensure the game in Wales emerges from this period and continues to play the vital role in Welsh life that it has for the last 140 years.”
WATCH: Jim Hamilton is joined by Ian McKinley to discuss the effects the coronavirus outbreak is having on the everyday life of a player living in Italy
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.