NCA Rugby would firstly like to thank all of our member clubs who have offered their opinions and thoughts on the possible scenarios regarding the resumption of competitive rugby at our level.
The responses have highlighted a genuine exercise in collectivity, but as with all decisions which have been affected by Covid-19, there are different ideas around how we solve the problems caused by the pandemic and restarting National League rugby falls under that bracket.
The key point from the subsequent NCA executive meeting was that while there is no intention to start a confrontation with other sectors of the game, the member clubs all of whom replied to the survey, would like due consideration given to their opinions.
The main findings were as follows:
- In the event of play not starting until January, 55 per cent of clubs do not want a 15-match season to be a validated competition with promotion and relegation at the end.
- 55 per cent also wish the proposed changes to the league structure to be postponed for a season.
- 72 per cent of clubs thought it unacceptable that promotion and relegation should be based on 19/20 league positions in the event of no rugby being played.
- There is almost uniform agreement that a 22-game season would be acceptable as an ‘authentic’ competition. With this in mind, the NCA executive would like consideration to be given to the possibility of – in the event of no play until 2021- the NCA season continuing into June to enable fixtures to be completed.
- In this instance, issues surrounding player contracts and insurance would be the responsibility of individual clubs. Equally, if the go-ahead was given for play in December, clubs would like to be able to stage matches over the Christmas and New Year period.
- In the event of the above scenario, given the reduction in fixtures the following season, NCA matches could start in October to allow an adequate down-time for players.
- On the flip side to this, there is considerable difference between attitudes over a potentially ‘void’ season. Many clubs disagree with the notion whilst some see it as an opportunity for consolidation, and to play friendlies against local rivals.
- Another suggestion is an NCA-styled ‘Bob Willis Cup’ with six/eight regional sections playing 10/11 fixtures, and then four knock-out weekends culminating in a final at a landmark venue. There was general agreement that if the season was declared void, the NCA clubs should be left to organise their own fixtures, potentially as in the format outlined, rather than be part of a national policy.
John Inverdale, the chairman of the NCA said: “The results highlighted the difficulty in finding a way out of the current situation.
“For every club who is vehemently against a competitive truncated season, there are almost as many who are equally committed to ensuring one takes place.
“It will obviously make all our lives a lot easier if we can resume rugby at some point during the autumn, but the fact that every single club in the NCA responded in some detail to the survey, shows how levels 3 and 4 are engaging in the debate. We are all aware of the issues that are affecting clubs at our level, but also we all understand what the possible permutations are in finding a solution.”