The decision to cancel the rugby union season has come under scrutiny as being too short-sighted.
Many teams and coaches believe the season could have been completed had the RFU taken more time over the decision.
The increased scrutiny stems from clubs left watching as other grassroots sports have been allowed to return and some fans allowed back in to grounds.
Across the country, many teams in various sports are free to train and compete again.
It leaves the majority of Rugby Union teams stuck on the outside looking in.
For Merseyside-based Firwood Waterloo RFC, the light at the end of the tunnel is no closer as the country remains at phase E on the return to rugby road map.
(Image credit: EnglandRugby.com)
In October, the RFU made the decision to cancel the season for all clubs below tier 2, leaving only Premiership and Championship clubs with any fixtures to look forward to.
As a result, Firwood’s players may have returned to training but have no competitive fixtures in sight.
Head coach Sean Fletcher worries about the knock on effect this could have for clubs at this level.
“We will lose players because they will go and play a sport where they can be active and can compete”
The worry for clubs like Firwood is if they cannot get enough young players in it could have a knock on effect for a number of seasons, as players typically tend to stay with the club and eventually join the 1st XV.
Fletcher suggested that the RFU’s decision could be “crippling” for many clubs.
Fletcher suggested that in light of the RFU’s decision clubs should organise their own fixtures between themselves as safely as possible.
This would allow a taste of competitive rugby.
However was quick to say that he understands the decision was not an easy one.
“I don’t agree with it [the decision], but I sympathise with it, because it’s a nightmare isn’t it […] who knows what’s around the corner?”
A significant proportion of Grassroots sports revenue comes from matchdays, in terms of gate receipts and the sale of food and drink.
The RFU’s decision to close this source of revenue, for clubs already struggling in the wake of a global pandemic, having already lost a summer of events, could have a detrimental effect on many clubs.
“Throughout the first lockdown we lost all the revenue for weddings, christenings, we get quite a lot of funerals and external events, and it’s the same now.”
Fletcher did offer a solution if a traditional season cannot be given the go ahead.
The Head Coach suggested just doing more local leagues, letting clubs from Merseyside compete just so that the clubs have a way to get people through the turnstiles.
As of December 18, clubs will be allowed to organise at friendly fixtures, providing they are in the correct tier of lockdown.
This means that Fletcher’s plan could soon become a reality.
However, the question still remains, if football and the rest of the sporting world can return to competitive fixtures… Why can’t rugby?