RFU pulls plug on cluster leagues
The alarming rise in COVID-19 infection rates has led the RFU to pull the plug on plans to get rugby clubs across the country playing again in what it termed ‘Cluster Fixtures’.
After the full 2020/21 season was officially abandoned for all but the top two tiers at the end of October, clubs across the RFU’s leagues had been offered the chance to opt in to regionally drawn mini leagues.
They were set to run without promotion or relegation connotations and be played with an adapted contact form of the 15-a-side game, without scrums or mauls, after the latter was approved by the Government in December.
Spalding player/coach Harry Sharman had previously said his team were ‘buzzing’ to play games against Stamford, Stamford Old Boys, Deeping, Bourne, Sleaford and Kesteven.
But a meeting of the RFU Competitions Committee, which met last week, decided to abandon the planned competitions.
However, friendly fixtures could still end up taking place through local controlling bodies, with the RFU paving the way for play into the summer.
On its latest Community Game Update, the RFU said: “Due to the additional restrictions announced to combat the spread of Covid-19, the RFU has regretfully decided to cancel both the adult male & female Cluster Fixtures (for teams that play in RFU Leagues).
“The focus will now switch to the following:
• Facilitating fixtures through local organising committees as and when conditions allow a return to playing rugby, which could extend into the summer months.
• Ensuring any extension does not encroach on the 2021/22 season start date.
“Any further announcements will be made following the next Government review.”