Many of you will have known Peter, a long time watcher with Staffordshire and the Federation. He had been battling his second bout of cancer but last night, sadly, he lost the battle and died. He had been relatively well recently and was in the pub just three weeks ago, but then had been back in hospital for a few days. On the positive side, as he always said, he had fourteen extra years of a full life, after his first fight with cancer, which was a bonus for him and his family.
Message from RFU Chief Executive Bill SweeneyMy thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19 as well as recent flooding events, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community.
In order to provide clarity and to assist with immediate and longer term planning, the RFU is today announcing the end of the 2019/20 rugby season for all league, cup and county rugby in England. The only exception to this is the Gallagher Premiership, who we are in active discussions with to review possible best next steps.
When current government advice on social distancing measures changes, we will naturally encourage rugby training and friendlies to recommence.
I would like to personally thank everyone for their swift actions in suspending rugby activity, this is not an easy time and I know many of you will have concerns that go beyond the game.
We are working through the implications of ending the season early and have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game. We will communicate these outcomes by the middle of April. While we would like to provide all the answers now, we need some time to get it right for the best interests of the game. Rest assured we are working on this as a priority and we will continue to send weekly updates to clubs.
The three areas of focus for the RFU right now are Welfare, Implications and Reboot.
We are ensuring colleagues and communities are given support to follow government advice and are providing recommendations on how to stay fit and healthy using individual training programmes. We are also talking to government about how we can deploy and mobilise our own resources across England to support the vulnerable.
Every union is different, with unique structures and challenges and the RFU needs to manage its own particular complexities. Our business model is similar to most rugby clubs – we earn revenue from events on and off the field and we invest that back into the game. We benefit from strong Twickenham Stadium revenues but we are also exposed if there is widespread cancellation of games and events.
In this extraordinary situation we are working through a range of potential financial scenarios dependent mainly on the length of this crisis. This was already budgeted to be a loss making year within a 4 year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 RWC campaign and only hosting two home Six Nations games. The loss will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the entire country. There may well also be much longer term financial implications which we are assessing now. It is therefore taking us some time to develop a considered position on how we can support clubs and the rugby community, which we will do.
We have already undertaken financial measures to safeguard the business enabling us to review all options and programmes to provide support for clubs in these difficult times.
We welcome the measures announced by Government which could provide crucial support to professional and community clubs and the RFU. We are in regular contact with Sport England and The Sport and Recreation Alliance to understand how business rate relief and hardship funds can be accessed by clubs and will be providing assistance to make sure every club who is eligible will be supported.
The implications for all areas of rugby will be thoroughly worked through and solutions discussed and developed with the clubs.
Our welfare advice before the start of next season will switch to offering guidance on how players at all levels can reboot and get match ready.
We will work closely with constituent bodies to support clubs, competition organisers and the wider rugby community in preparing to re-start rugby in what is likely to be a challenging environment.
In recent days we have all been inspired by the many stories across the rugby family working together to support those who are the most vulnerable in their community – this encapsulates the unique spirit of rugby. I am confident that this spirit and resilience during these tough times will ensure we will come through this together and emerge stronger.
Take care and stay safe,
Corona virus update – Community Rugby Suspension
Following government advice today, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) will suspend all rugby activity in England, at both professional and community level, including club training, league and cup matches plus rugby education courses from 17 March until 14 April subject to continued review.
The decision has been taken following government advice in the interests of players, coaches, referees, volunteers, supporters and the wider rugby union community.
Where possible, players at all levels are encouraged to maintain their own personal fitness and keep active during this time, while following government guidelines about safe distance and safe exercise environments.
The RFU will continue to review and monitor government advice and will provide detailed updates on the impact to the season in the coming weeks.
All match officials should be aware of the latest advice from the Government, Health Authorities and the RFU regarding Covid-19 especially those deemed to be High Risk. Please bear this advice in mind before accepting a match appointment and please contact the Society if you have any concerns.
High risk: Individuals who are over the age of 70 and/or have a long-term health condition such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or have a low immune system or provide care for someone else who is high risk.
Medium risk: Individuals who are between the ages of 50-69 (with no other health conditions) are also at a higher risk of becoming more unwell than those who are younger, although studies show that the risk is lower for this group.
Low risk: Studies have shown that the majority of people under the age of 50 (with no other health conditions) who contract the virus experience mild to moderate symptoms.
Whether you are at home or in the community, following Government guidance to take basic hygiene precautions remains the best way of significantly reducing the chances of spreading any virus. Sneeze or cough into a tissue and bin it. Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands. We should wash our hands for about 20 seconds and do this regularly throughout the day and before eating or handling food.
This is a rapidly changing situation and further information will be issued whenever possible.
It follows that any decision as to whether to referee or not has to been down to the individual. All we ask is that if you decide NOT to referee you inform the appointment officers as soon as possible. If the game has already been confirmed with you by the Club please try to notify the club of your withdrawal.
The funeral will be on Friday 27 March at 1.45 pm at Streetly Crematorium, Little Hardwick Road, Streetly, WS9 0SG.
If you are able to join the family afterwards at Veseyans Rugby Club, Little Hardwick Road, Streetly WS9 0SQ they would love to see you there.
A rough indication of numbers for catering purposes would be appreciated.