THE 2020-21 season for domestic rugby clubs and school teams in Scotland has been cancelled due to the ongoing challenges presented by Covid-19.

It had been hoped that the grassroots game could be back up and running by the end of January, but the continued prevalence of the virus in society means that target has now been pushed back to the usual season-close date in Spring 2021.

It is still hoped that local friendly fixtures can be arranged in the months ahead at a time when it is safe to do so, and part-time professional Super6 teams will continue to work towards the possibility of playing a full programme of fixtures from the end of March 2021.

This development is likely to elicit a mixed response amongst the grassroots of Scottish rugby, with opinions split between those desperate to see some sort of return to action as soon as is safely possible, and those who would rather draw a line under 2020-21 now so that they can fully focus on hitting the ground running when the 2021-22 season kicks-off next August.

“We know many clubs and schools were looking forward to resuming competitive matches in the new year, but Covid-19 remains an active threat and we must act responsibly, putting the safety of our players, volunteers and their local communities first,” said Scottish Rugby Union President Ian Barr.

“We understand the decision will be disappointing, however it is important that we make the right choices to contribute to helping lower the infection rates and support public health guidelines, which can hopefully enable us to return to rugby fully at the right time.”

A club communication from Murrayfield also touched on how the postponement of the season will impact club funding from the governing body.

“The Supporting Clubs Investment Programme, which was created in response to Covid-19, sees important changes to elements of its criteria, due to the closure of the competitive season, namely participation funding and player improvement funding, which were previously listed as conditional upon fulfilment of fixtures,” the communication explained.

“These elements will now be replaced by a top-up payment, similar to the amount which a club may have earned from the original Supporting Clubs Investment Scheme had the revised competitions for this season gone ahead.”